The Coalition for Democratic Change- led government has proposed a $9.4million United States dollar increase in government’s wage bill for the remaining five months of the 2017/18 fiscal budget ending June 30.
Recasting the budget from the high of US$563.5 million down to US$536.4million, the George Weah’s administration adjusted the US$297,799,916 payroll it inherited from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration to US$307,280,850, reflecting a 3.1% increment.
This approach contrasts President Weah and ranking ruling part legislators’ push for reduction in public officials’ earnings. Yet it appears to be in working progress for the fulfillment of deputy CDC leader and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor’s campaign promise to increase legislators’ salaries and benefits.
President Weah and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning are seeking the upward movement in elected officials and government employees’ compensation despite the President telling lawmakers that the country is experiencing decline in revenue.
As at January 31, 2018, the country recorded a revenue shortfall of $83.7million, Weah told legislators in the message accompanying the proposed recast budget.
“The change in administration has also necessitated a few changes to address priorities of the new government, he said.
“To address the resource constraints resulting from challenging macroeconomic environment and poor performance of most revenue lines, while ensuring efficient services delivery over the remaining period of the fiscal year, a number of austerity measures are proposed, including cutting back on certain categories of goods and services for the total of US$27.1million. These adjustments if approved will result in a balance of US#536.2m.
The austerity measures the President is seeking legislative approval to execute his “pro-poor” programs and projects do not affect top government officials and institutions like the judiciary, Legislature and Office of the President.
“Fuel is reduced by 55% across all institutions except for LRA, medical facilities, the legislature, the judiciary,” Weah recommended.
“Moreover, there is a 50% cut to telecommunication cut and workshop across all spending entities excluding the legislature and the judiciary. Similarly there is a 55% cut to travels across spending entities except for the ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Legislature, Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and the judiciary.”