The Ministry of Finance & Development Planning has submitted the “Pro-poor” Draft National Budget for FY2018-2019 in the amount of US $562.2 million to the House of Representatives in compliance with law. In presenting the draft budget, the Ministry says that “expenditure has increased, but it . . . is optimistic that the domestic economy is expected to rebound with improvements . . . in the mining & panning sector followed by the forestry sector.
Real GDP (Gross Domestic Product expressed as a percentage of all goods and services produced annually by the nation) growth is projected at 3.9% in 2018 as compared to a projection of 2-5% in 2017”.
Earlier, on April 25, 2018, President Weah and Cabinet announced that they had “adopted several measures” consistent with his “pro-poor agenda” to enhance governments economic position in the effort to realize its objectives. “These measures include the reduction or standardization of salaries for ministers of government and heads autonomous agencies, especially, within the Executive Branch” of government.
According to the announcement, the Cabinet resolved that:
a) “No longer will any official of government, including heads of autonomous agencies make US $10,000 or US $15,000 respectively”;
b) “That heads of public corporations (State-owned enterprises) or autonomous agencies will make not more than US $7,800 as salary; cabinet also took a decision for a 10% salary reduction across the board for cabinet ministers, mainly those at the highest level of the Executive” Branch of Government”; and
c) That “the decision will take effect in the pending FY2018-2019 budget”.
Indeed, we recognize, commend and are encouraged by the “guts”, courage and “political will” shown by President Weah and his team for the historic effort in attempting salary reductions. We are hopefully waiting for the results.
According to the New Democrat newspaper (New Democrat, April 30, 2018), examples of the prevailing salary levels disclosed were, only, within the Executive Branch of Government. The National Legislature and Judiciary were not mentioned. Those indicated were the following:
1. Managing Director, National Social Security & Welfare Corporation – US $300,000 Annual salary or US $25,000 monthly with allowances.
2. Auditor-General of Liberia – US $268,975.92 Annual salary or US $22, 414 monthly with housing, utilities, transport allowances.
3. Governor, Central Bank of Liberia – US $228,000 Annual salary or US $19,000 monthly with allowances. (The Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank is paid US $201,700 Annual salary with Deputy Governors at US $120,000 Annual salary.
4. President/CEO, National Oil Corporation of Liberia (NOCAL) – US $228,000 or US $19,000 monthly with allowances. (The CEO is a retired 20-year-employee of the Dupont Corporation of the State of Delaware, USA).
5. Managing Director, Liberia Maritime Authority – US $180,000 Annual salary or US $15,000 monthly with allowances.
6. Managing Director, National Port Authority – US $180,000 Annual salary or US $15,000 monthly with allowances.
The deeply-troubling economic issue is the impact of the salaries, benefits and allowances scales & levels for top officials of the Liberian government – President, Vice President, members of Legislature, the Judiciary, Ministers and deputies, heads of specialized agencies, state-owned enterprises, etc. – are bloated and exceedingly over-stated, particularly, during the 12-year rule Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. They (salaries, benefits and allowances scales & levels) must be reduced by more than 50% to reflect economic truth/reality and socio-political justification, given the prevailing condition of a small, poor developing country.
Moreover, research information shows, in general terms, that salary scales and levels paid to top corporate (private) and government (public) officials of top US and other developed nations are determined by (a), total, gross annual revenue generated by the corporation through the efforts of corporate officials (b), gross domestic product (GDP) of the nation and (c), level of scientific and economic achievement of the nation as justification of the nations’ ability to provide socio-economic and political benefits under these conditions.
But in Liberia, Political Rulers copy salary, benefits, and allowance scales/levels of top US corporate (private) and government (public) officials and apply them to the Liberian counterparts without any justification, whatsoever. The United States of America is a highly-developed nation, in socio-economic, educational, political and scientific terms. The nation has been able to put an individual on the planet moon, some estimated hundred-millions of miles from our planet earth; whereas, the Republic of Liberia cannot transport anyone safely, comfortably and timely to the City of Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County (where the scenic, tourist attraction of Lake Piso is located) only some estimated 35-40 miles from the City of Monrovia!!
The 35-40 distance includes, specifically, the ancient 20-25-mile “path” from the Junction of the paved Monrovia-Mano River Bridge to Robertsport. This path developed into the-now dilapidated, pot-holed, difficult-to navigate “Road” for safe, comfortable and timely travel, while the Shemans, Joneses, Shannons, Fahnbullehs, etc., historical political policy-making tycoons of Cape Mount County live in Mansions on Tubman Boulevard in Sinkor/Monrovia, Congo Town and Robertsfield Highway in Paynesville!!!.
About Liberia’s Political Rulers
Elsewhere, we observed that this Ruling Bunch (the Political Ruling Class) in Monrovia and other urban centers, believes that the nation and people owe it or that it is entitled to a life of splendor and opulence on taxes paid and other public resources provided by the people and others stolen from the people.
This Bunch includes, now, sanitized, emerged and emerging politicos who fled from the towns and villages of Rural Liberia. Pray tell me and others, how any man or woman of reason, in this poor, developing country of ours, Liberia, may one pay a Liberian citizen, living in Liberia, US $300,000 per year, US $25,000 per month or US $833.00 per day in our county in which the average Liberian struggles on US $1.00 per day? This, indeed, is political banditry, the cesspool of graft/greed and corruption, characteristic of TWP one-party state of the Republic of Liberia, since 1847.
No wonder that our country, Liberia, is ranked one of the most dishonest and corrupt countries of the world by World Political/Economic Watchers!!
Also, we observed elsewhere that the Ministry of Finance, now merged with the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs to become and became the so-called the super Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, the MF&DP is:
• Over-paid and over-staffed with Dual Citizens who live not in Liberia but travelled, often, to their foreign home countries at enormous cost. They are provided allowances for housing, electricity power generators and top-of-the-line motor vehicles, etc., although they plan and/or develop nothing.
• Historically, the Ministry of Finance has been, and is, the most dishonest and corrupt agency of government, known for its “get-rich-quick” schemes and theft of public funds; in that, all, almost, of the-now wealthy land and developed Mamba Point and Sinkor property owners are descendants of executives of the Ministry of Finance and its former section, Bureau of Revenue, now the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).
• The Ministry gives out huge sums of public funds to ghost or none-existent “educational” institutions, including the so-called “Private Sector Development Program (PSDP) through the LBDI Bank.
• Retains for itself, significant percentage of Social & Economic Funds allocated to the counties and others as the “Paymaster who must get something from the people he pays” and that the Ministry is known for delays, delays and delays for theft of public resources.
• Thus, funds allocated for legitimate claim payment are diverted, do not each the lawful claimants because the Ministry does not apply or consciously ignores conventionally-accepted practice of financial management and reporting.
Criminal Cartel at MF&DP
According to the most recent investigative press reports (Front Page, May 4, 2018), the MF&DP is, in fact, a criminal syndicate deeply-engaged in corrupt practices. According to an inside whistleblower, “The entire database at the Ministry (of Finance) is flawed. The system is . . . corrupt, if we use the database the government would not be able to carry out its projects because a lot of money would be going in the pockets of some corrupt workers at the Ministry”.
“The fraud activities in that department (Ministry of Finance) is often carried out through payment methods that land thousands of both US and Liberian dollars in the pockets of the members of the Grand Cartel operating in the department”.
An earlier Audit report on the Ministry of Finance showed that 24 borrowers who received the so-called Private Sector Development Program (PSDP) Loans in the total of US $965,400 reneged to make repayment; and that the same report showed that 12 “business organizations” received a total of US $545,700, but could not be found anywhere in the country nor the telephone contacts of owners.
This, in fact, is continuation of historical “Pro-Rich agenda” at the detriment of President Weah’s “Pro-Poor” dispensation. It (“Rich Agenda”) must not succeed!!