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GeneralLiberia news

Senate tussles over Pension Bill 

By Ethel A. Tweh

Several senators on Capitol Hill have engaged in a heated debate on what should be considered pension or retirement benefits upon leaving office.

The senators are having such a debate at a time Liberians are poised to either re-elect or replace some legislators in the ensuing 2023 presidential and legislative elections slated for October 10.

The debate on Tuesday followed a report submitted to plenary by the Senate’s Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petition, chaired by Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. Varney Sherman. 

The report focuses on an Act adopting an integrated pensions and benefits scheme for a certain category of officials of the Government of the Republic.

It also focuses on repealing and or amending certain portions of the Legislative Act, Title 12, Executive Law and Title 17, Judiciary Law as amended in 2003. 

After the report, the debate intensified, especially when some senators were concerned about how they will be treated in terms of benefits in case they’re no longer in public service.

At the same time, other senators raised issues based on how pension and retirement would be in their cases whether they will follow the benchmark set by the National Social Security Corporation or if they (senators) will insert some legal conditions in their favor.

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During the heated argument on the floor, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon stressed that a lawmaker that is voted out by the electorate should not be entitled to any retirement benefits.

According to the opposition lawmaker, a lawmaker who is voted out is based on how the electorate examines his/her legislative workings. He argued that such a departure from office is not a honorable retirement, and therefore a former lawmaker in this category should not be a liability to national government.

Regarding pension, the Montserrado County Senator stated that a legislator should be entitled to his/her pension benefits if such lawmaker honors the social security law.

He said though the pension law says an individual must be 60 years or above, a lawmaker should get his benefits once he pays for 100 months requirement while in public service.

Also speaking, River Cess County Senator, Wellington Geevon-Smith questioned his colleagues on what becomes of a person who served as a Deputy Speaker and is retired by his people and later got another job.

He wants to know whether such a person will get their pension benefits for the previous position occupied, or whether they waive it the public office. 

In the wake of the tense argument among the lawmakers, they failed to reach a logical conclusion.

The senators could not distinguish retirement and pension, especially regarding lawmakers’ age.

Meanwhile, the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert Tugbeh Chie, referred the report back to the committee room to report to plenary in one week.

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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