The Senate Chambers at the Capitol descended in disarray Monday, 30 September when Senators J. Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County and Francis D. Paye of Rivercess County demanded their newest member in the Senate Abraham Darious Dillon of Montserrado County to retract recent disclosure of his salary, allowance and benefits.
But Senators Saah Joseph of Montserrado, Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa and J. Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland County, amongst others vehemently object to the demand.
Based on election promises, Dillon revealed last week that a handwritten communication he received from Bomi County Senator Morris Saytumah detailed his (Dillon’s) monthly salary as US$15,000 plus LRD29, 000 besides transportation reimbursement and gasoline cost, among other benefits.
Senator Teahjay challenged the figures mentioned by Senator Dillon, saying they don’t look like the figures on their book, demanding, “Let him withdraw what he said because he misled the public.”
However, Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland raised question of precedence reminding his colleagues that such issue should not be discussed in plenary, as there had never been a day in the Senate when someone (a senator’s) personal press conference was included in plenary agenda. Brown maintained the senate will communicate with the public through the appropriate manner.
But Teahjay claimed the net income of a senator per month is US$7,994.32 plus LD$29,000. He added that the transportation reimbursement is US$3,175, which goes against vehicle bought by the government for a sitting senator and such money doesn’t go to an individual senator.
“The government put that figure there to indicate the value of the vehicle for a period of four years and after that time, you can decide to go to GSA (General Services Agency) to pay for it and get it if you wanted. The money is not an income; it’s assigned to a senator but it’s not taken home as a pay. But Dillon tallies that as part of senators’ pay and that is in error.” He argued.
He also explained senators receive US$2, 150 monthly in gasoline, noting that it quantifies 428 gallons of gasoline per month per senator, which come in coupons and not cash, saying the monetary value of the gasoline is on the coupon.He clarified that the Senate Ways, Means and Finance chair Sen. Morris Saytumah didn’t mislead Sen. Dillon, claiming that Dillon was given a chart, but he mis-read the chart and gave the public wrong figures.
Senator Dillon in reaction noted the Sinoe County Senator only said that he (Dillon) lied but failed to state the monthly gross salary earned by each senator.
According to him, the contention is being raised today because when one has the power to pay himself from public money and is ashamed to talk about it in public “than you know that it’s wrong.”
Dillon maintained that he’s not afraid of falling in trouble with his colleagues, noting that he went to the Liberian Senate to make a change and he will make sure a change is made. “I came to disrupt constructively for the country”, he concludes. By Ethel A. Tweh–Editing by Jonathan Browne