MONROVIA: The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), says the salary disparity saga at the Ministry involving some of its employees, which led to a protest action last week, is not the making of the ministry’s senior management team.
According to the MICAT Senior Management Team, the situation is rather the result of a long-standing salary disparity with MICAT’s Payroll.
This disparity was not adequately addressed when the harmonization process took place, especially for those who were already earning below the established Government of Liberia salary threshold, MICAT said.
“MICAT wants to make it clear that the Ministry is not clothed with the authority of increasing salaries, as such is squarely within the purview of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Civil Service Agency,” the release added.
The release further asserted that the Ministry empathizes with the aggrieved employees and wants to make it known that many administrative efforts have been made over the last several months by the Senior Management Team of MICAT, through regular engagements with authorities of both the MFDP and CSA, to address the salary disparity with assurances from these two entities that the situation would be addressed on a holistic basis since it is not unique to MICAT.
The Authorities of MICAT pointed out that they have gone to great lengths in explaining to the affected employees to remain patient while the matter was being looked into by MFDP and CSA, but the employees chose to protest.
On Monday, November 14, the MFDP through its Executive Director of the Liberia Macroeconomic Policy Analysis Center, Mr. Del-Francis Wreh, who is responsible to handle such matters, met with the aggrieved employees and explained to them relative to efforts being made by the government through the MFDP to address concerns about “low salary” of some government employees.
Regarding claim of ghost names which saturate the MICAT payroll, the release added: It is worth noting that the General Auditing Commission (GAC), conducted a comprehensive audit of the MICAT Payroll, a few months ago, which included a physical headcount of each of the current employees at the ministry, including Presidential appointees.
The MICAT Senior Management Team pointed out that it is therefore shocking that such a claim is being made.
However, the release indicated that MICAT Senior Management Team would welcome evidence to validate such an allegation and remains open to any other audit of the payroll.
MICAT Senior Management Team is again renewing its appeal to the aggrieved employees to exercise patience as the MFDP and CSA gradually address their concerns.
On last Thursday, November 10, 2022, employees of MICAT staged a protest over salary deduction.
The employees demanded that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning should carry out an immediate heads-count or fiscal audit to remove ghost names from the ministry’s payroll.
The MICAT employees said the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning deducted their salaries in the name of harmonization without taking into consideration qualifications of employees.
The protesting MICAT employees also alleged that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning included on the MICAT payroll people who are not in the employ of the ministry.
The protest paralyzed normal working activities at the MICAT, which lasted for several hours last Thursday. The protest came to end when Mr. Del-Francis Wreh, Economic Analyst for Ministry of Finance and Development Planning arrived at MICAT and convinced the protesting employees to stop their protest action.
Speaking to a team of journalists at the Ministry of Information, before the start of the protest, the Secretary General of the MICAT Workers Association, Jamuel Kullie, noted that the proposed heads-count or fiscal audit will enable the Finance Ministry to know the real MICAT employees and those who are not in the employ of the ministry but are getting salaries monthly.
He also lamented that there are salaries disparities at the ministry which, according to him, are killing the working condition of the ministry.
For example, he said directors and other employees are making more money than others, something which he said, is not right.
He asserted that Mr. Kwame Weeks, Director General of the Liberia News Agency (LINA), who holds a diploma gets US$ 4,392 monthly while his deputy who is a certificate holder gets US$1,784.25.
He added that a high school graduate, Madam Rose V. Manford, who is a workshop organizer for LINA, is receiving US$411. According to him, the position, workshop organizer, does not exist at the ministry.
The workers’ spokesman indicated that Mr. Terrence Sesay, former President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) who is currently Rural News Editor at LINA, is getting US$ 366.
He narrated that two female reporters of LINA, Hawah S.B. Dolleh, and Fanta Keita, are earning US$ 503.25 each monthly, while other reporters are getting between US $150 to 200 dollars monthly.
It is also indicated that Madam Agatha Thompson, Director of Communication Bureau at MICAT gets US$ 915 monthly while her Deputy, Roosevelt Z. Paye, gets US$ 272.65 monthly.
Others who are serving in Director Positions receive different amounts as salaries monthly.
He disclosed that Central Printing Incorporated Manager, Mr. Jerry Sumo, gets US$ 400 while former soccer player of Liberia National Team, Lone Star, Christopher Wreh, is on the MICAT payroll and is getting US$1,052.25 monthly. It is not clear which position Wreh currently occupies at MICAT.
The Secretary General of the MICAT Workers Association Jamuel Kullie vowed that their protest action will continue this week until the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning carries out immediate heads-count or fiscal audit.