Senate Pro Tempore Armah Jallah appears to be a very shameless man. He says the 2015/2016 budget is not impacting the Liberian people at the time his office alone is bagging about US1.5 million, while refusing to increase civil servants’ salary.
This was what he got after presiding over the passage of the 2015/16 national budget. With his this huge budget of US$1,483,784 for the 2015\2016 budget – about US$74,861 less of the previous budget, Pro-Temp Jallah spends US105,227 as basic salary, with a general allowance of US$247, 325 and a special allowance of US$78,000.
Tax payers will have to spend US$74, 850, during this fiscal year for the Pro-temp vehicles’ fuel and lubricants; the same as last year. He does not intent to take any vehicle to the garage this year for repairs or maintenance and will not be reading any newspaper this year as those two line items are either zero or not recorded.
But he is sure of buying enough stationery at the cost of US$10,000 and doing some publications worth over 2,000. He has a scratch card budget worth US$20,000 plus, as ordinary Liberians will have to depend on the promotions of GSM companies here to stay connected or make calls.
With other unnamed specialized materials at US$217, 648, Jallah is okay to take US$33,408 for his generator, while many Liberians sleep in darkness and US$19,719 from tax payers for foreign travels, settling down with a periderm of US$32, 617.
With this huge budget, Pro-Temp Jallah shamelessly told journalists here on Friday that the budget is not impacting the general public because it is hugely spent on government’s operations and salaries. But what he did not say was that his benefits and salaries were also part of the huge operations and salaries.
Pro Tempore Jallah at the news conference on Friday afternoon at his Capitol Building office said that government is the highest employment institution in country as a result, funds generated by the revenue institutions here are spent on functionaries of government leaving the social responsibilities that should been served to the people in the cold.
Pro-Temp Jallah did not stop at saying the general public is not benefiting from the budget, he claims he wants a change.
“The national budget is not impacting our people. This is something that we work to change or social basic needs of the people will not be provided,” he said. On August 6, 2015, members of the Liberian Senate approved the Draft Budget based on a total projected resource envelop of US$604.04 million. The amount represents Domestic Revenue of US$465.61million; Grants/Budget Support of US$66.23 million; Borrowing of US$58.61; and Carry-forward (surplus from FY2014/15) of US$13.58 million.
He however said, his office has made available US$100,000 budgetary support to augment allowances to staffers, indicating that he hold regular discussions with staffers under normal condition unlike the past pro tempore was coerced by circumstance to do so, and his administration has ensued staffers receive full benefits of special sitting of the senate, all of which are unprecedented in the history of the senate.
For the funds been given to staffers, Jallah told the news conference that his administration offered scholarship to three staffers for studies in China while others are being trained in legislative drafting procedures at the local level. In November three additional persons will benefit from training opportunity in India and in January 2016, the second batch of employees will leave for India to pursue studies a the graduate level.
Commenting about the workings of the senate over the period, Jallah explained that the senate disposed of 27 bills of which seven were passed into law, six were those the senate sought concurrence with the House of Representatives; five were the senate concurred with while nine bills sent by the senate to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for approval.
Commenting on the sanitary conditions of the senate, Pro Tempore Jallah explains, “We continue to deliver on our promise to make this senate a 21st century complaint and uphold its independence. The sanitary conditions of the restrooms and the entire environment of the senate wing being rapidly improved, our restrooms are all being given new looks; we have water reaching to every floor of the senate wing,” he said.-
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor – edited by Othello B. Garblah, with additional files