Discussion on Salary Inequality Heightens

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The Director of the Legislative Information Service has welcomed call to action by the 54th Legislature relating to NATIONAL INCOME STANDARDIZATION. In recent weeks an influencial member of the 54th Legislature and the Ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Rep. Acarous Gray of Montserrado District No. 8 has heightened the standardization discourse through various media outlets. McCarthy Weh who heads the Legislature’s joint information and research department said it a conscious call for action especially during this pro-poor governance era.

Director Weh said while he appreciates current ongoing review of “standardization” he has officially called the attention of the House Speaker and Senate President Pro temp to what he term Income and Benefit Parity between and amongst senior personnel of all three Branches, particularly the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government. In separate communications addressed to both heads of the Legislature, Mr Weh opined that the aged old practice of senior staff of the Legislature seeing themselves as subservient to their counterparts from the Executive with respect to income and benefit disparity must now be reviewed. The LIS boss asserts that such infamous remuneration practice contravenes Article 8 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia which states in part: “The Republic shall direct its policy towards ensuring for all citizens, without discrimination, opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions, and towards promoting safety, health and welfare facilities in employment.”
The Legislature’s Research head reference Article 7 of the Liberian Constitution in part: that “The Republic shall… manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia in such manner as shall ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under conditions of equality as to advance the general welfare of the Liberian people…” As such, he maintains that in the category of senior personnel of the three Branches of Government, there must be equity/parity in remunerations.

Further referencing the Constitution, Director McCarthy Weh emphasized that also Constitution of Liberia in Chapters V, VI and VII clearly outlines respectively, the power, functions and responsibilities of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary; noting that the three separate but coordinate Branches of Government have personnel who run the affairs of each Branch. As such there must be equal pay for equal work. And like the Executive and Judiciary, the Legislature has a set of personnel who runs and manages the day to day affairs of the First Branch of Government.
The LIS Director stresses that under the Executive, the nomenclature for highest ranking positions are mainly Minister, Deputy Minister and Assistant Minister, Managing Director, Director General, Deputy & Assistant Managers. On the other hand, at the Legislature, the highest ranking positions are Chief Clerk, Secretary of the Senate, Deputy Chief Clerk & Secretary of the Senate, Bi-Cameral Directors, Chiefs-of-Office Staff (COS) to the Speaker, President Pro tempore and Deputy Speaker, Unicameral Directors, Deputy and Assistant Directors.

Referencing the Legislature’s Modernization document, he reminded the Speaker and President Pro temp of Section 2.5 which states emphatically that “staff of the Legislature are POORLY PAID.” There is no better time to revisit this discriminatory practice than now consistent with the Ruling Party’s Pro-Poor Agenda.

Director Weh stated that senior personnel of the Legislature do hold Master’s degree; some with double Masters, qualified, competent, dutiful with long years of services credited to them, but earn nothing near an Assistant Minister with the Executive Branch, least to mention Deputy Minister. He urged Members of the 54th Legislature to, at this time of the nation’s existence, draw a clear line of parity between and amongst senior personnel of the Branches of Government. It must be conspicuously known by law or statute as to what level under the Executive are the Chief Clerk (deputy) and the Secretary of the Senate (deputy) are parallel – Ministerial or Deputy Ministerial positions; and also, at what level joint Service Directors, Unicameral Directors, Chiefs-of-Office-Staff to the Speake, President Pro tempore, Deputy Speaker and other lawmakers as well as Deputy and Assistant Directors are equivalent to, under the Executive – whether Deputy or Assistant Ministerial positions.

Director McCarthy Weh underscored the need for the 54th Legislature to make this a priority under the STANDARDIZATION DISCOURSE/ACT as may be proposed. When considered, will not only serve as the beginning point for truly rebranding the Legislature but will, like the Executive and Judicial Branches, attract best and brightest minds to the Legislature – emphasizing that the importance because the Legislature works through Committees and these Committees’ works cover multiple inter-disciplinary subject matters and policy discourses, many of which are enacted in laws. As such, remunerations to its staff must equally attract best and brightest Liberian brains from in the and out of the country.