Home Economy On 103 Lawmakers: Liberia Spends Over US$10m -Two Rep. Candidates Reveal; Vow Drastic Slash In Legislators’ Mouthwatering Allowances If…

On 103 Lawmakers: Liberia Spends Over US$10m -Two Rep. Candidates Reveal; Vow Drastic Slash In Legislators’ Mouthwatering Allowances If…

by News Manager

MONROVIA: Two Legislative Candidates in the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections, Ambassador Rufus Neufville, of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), and Emmanuel Robertson of the former ruling Unity Party (UP), have expressed their commitment to integrity and accountability in the performance of their respective duties, if elected to the Legislature in October.

Addressing a news conference on Thursday, the duo promised to encourage other candidates for legislative seats to sign a Resolution aimed at reduction in the mouthwatering allowances of all lawmakers by at least 20% if they are successful in the October polls.

Ambassador Neufville, a Representative Candidate for Montserrado County Electoral District # 8; and Mr. Robertson of Montserrado County Electoral District #12 said, if they are elected, they will lobby for each lawmaker to make Fifteen Thousand United States Dollars (US $15,000) per month in line with the proposed Resolution.

The two candidates disclosed that this amount covers General Allowances, Gas Slips, Vehicle Repairs, Constituency Office expenses, Communication (Scratch Cards), Works of Committees, and Domestic Travels.

They also committed to reducing the allowances of Cabinet Ministers and Heads of Public Corporations by at least 20%, and in cases where the enabling Statutes protect their benefits, they will proceed by
reviewing those laws.

According to them, money which would be generated from the reduction of allowances of cabinet ministers and heads of public corporations will be used to subsidize schools and to reduce tuition and fees.

They, at the same time, expressed commitment to revisit duty-free privileges for lawmakers; especially the cancellation of the allotment of two cars per year.

They noted that duty-free privileges are exemptions that allow some individuals or institutions to import goods into the country without paying customs duties and taxes.

They indicated that it is crucial to reconsider the necessity and fairness of providing such privileges, when Liberian Lawmakers are among the well-paid officials in the ECOWAS Region.

“This action will eliminate the potential abuse and increase of government revenue,” the Legislative Candidates indicated.

On the issue of vehicles, the two candidates explained that the current practice is that Lawmakers receive new vehicles every three years.

“A Senator receives three cars during his/her term, while a Representative receives two cars. At the rate of $45,000; taxpayers spend $90,000 on each Representative and $135,000 on each Senator for
a term. In total, we spend $6,570,000 on the 73 Representatives and $4,050,000 on the 30 Senators,” they said.

They asserted that the legal justification for this luxury, they added, is that the annual depreciation rate of government vehicles is 33% and at this rate, the cars are “officially” out of service after every three years.

“We pledge to review the relevant laws or policies that set the standard for the amortization or depreciation of government cars over six years instead of three,” they vowed.

According to them, such savings will improve public transport, especially the National Transit Authority (NTA).

According to them, the estimate here is lower given that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, and Heads of Standing Committees in the Legislature such as Executive, Ways & Means, Foreign Affairs, Judiciary, and Rules & Order, ‘ride more expensive vehicles.’

The two candidates also pledged to debate the National Fiscal Budget in open sections and to vote against any appropriations of public funds to institutions owned by government officials.

They also promised to seek the participation of scholars from the following institutions: The University of Liberia, Cuttington University, African Methodist Episcopal University, United Methodist
University, AME Zion University, Stella Maris University, and other higher institutions of learning.

They stressed that engaging these institutions is intended to utilize their scholarly insights in addressing pressing national issues.

Touching on Budget Performance Report, they said failure to report on monies allocated to institutions obstructs the workings of the Legislature, noting that it prevents Lawmakers from comparing actual versus planned expenditures over a given period.

“We therefore, pledge to hold in contempt any officials of the Executive Branch who will refuse to submit a Budget Performance Report at the end of each fiscal period,” they stated.

They stated that the National Budget is a law and after its passage by the Legislature, the Executive must implement the law, while the Lawmakers abrogate the Constitution by allocating money to themselves for district development in the case of the USD 30,000 in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

They noted that this action violates the principle of ‘Separation of Powers’, which is the very foundation of the Republican form of government that Liberia supports.

“We therefore pledge that District Development Funds shall go directly to the communities through the Offices of Community Leaders, the Superintendents and the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” the candidates stressed.

Commenting on Civil Servants, the candidates narrated that if they are elected, they will vote against any additional benefits to government officials.

We will also vote that additional revenues generated shall benefit the civil servants, and that any harmonization of the salaries of public employees or civil servants shall constitute legislative contempt.

Article 44 of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia gives Lawmakers the power to hold public officials in contempt, they among others, indicated.

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