If an arrest order issued against Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah on Monday, 8 November by Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia presided over by Her Honor, Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Youh for three months’ unpaid salaries is anything to judge by, government employees, particularly civil servants are in for a rude awakening. They may now have to protest or go to court to get paid monthly.
The Finance Ministry had failed to pay employees at the Judiciary for three months thus, prompting an arrest order by the Supreme Court to Minister Tweah to show cause why he shouldn’t be held in contempt for hindering judicial functions. The matter has however been resolved after Tweah appeared and apologized to the High Court for delaying salary for three months, providing excuses and eventually making payment.
Similar situation of salary delay is happening across the government with employees being constrained to wait sometimes up to 20th of the following month to receive salary amid rice shortage in Liberia and skyrocketing prices.
Lawyers are barred from engaging in private businesses but if they are constrained to go without salary for months, it renders the judiciary vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals, who want to circumvent justice by offering bribes.
Minister Tweah boasts of economic stability and growth. But if government struggles to pay monthly salaries, it is a clear contradiction.
A government in its first term struggling to pay public workers does not give hope to voters to elect the administration for a second term, as President George Weah is seeking.
Despite printing banknotes totaling about 50 billion, it is incomprehensible that the Weah administration is struggling to pay salaries. This is a fiscal management and accountability issue that needs to be addressed.
The Judiciary Branch of government is privileged that it has contempt power, but poor civil servants who constitute bulk of the workforce in the public sector are left at the mercy of Tweah and his officials at the Finance Ministry.
The government is not admitting that it is beset by financial constraints principally because of corruption and lack of transparency that has led to officials close to the President being designated.
The recent experience at the Judiciary is unpleasant and highly disappointing. Tweah should get his act together and prioritize salary of public workers rather than financing President Weah’s vacation trips abroad at the expense of poor taxpayers, including members of the Judiciary.