The Liberian government is planning to sack about 4000 workers in its employ and suspend new recruitment programs at ministries and agencies throughout the country.
The measure is in a bid to regulate the government’s recruitment system and harmonise civil servants’ salaries.
This comes at the time the economic situation in the country gets tougher and the government is putting austerity measures to reduce its wage bill.
As the country’s national budget stands, 56 % of the US$530 million accounts for salaries alone, while the remaining 44% are spread over foreign and domestic debts, social benefits, subsidies, developmental projects among others.
Deputy Director General at the Civil Service Agency, Mr. James Thompson, told senior journalists at a retreat that the new salary harmonisation will re-organise the entire payment system and put an end to inconsistencies in the civil service as emoluments, special allowances, etc, will no longer be made from discretions of ministers and heads of government agencies who bloat the numbers of government employees to their personal gains.
He noted that the planned program is intended to harmonise salaries across the central government over a projected period of time. By this, it means if a director earn a total of say USD 3000 per month that amount will be reduced by about US$1000 putting his final salary at 2000, while another who is at the same level but earns say USD$500, will be reduced by 5%.
He explained that employee with the USD475 per month will receive a gradual increase until he is brought on par with the one earning USD2000 over a protracted period. “The harmonisation is not a full one,” he said adding, “if we were to do a full harmonisation it would require about USD180 million to bring every employee at the same level depending on their grade.”
He added that with the new system being put in place, it will be difficult for anyone in any of the government sector ministry or agency to carry out a unilateral recruitment as has been done in the past, as new government recruitment will come whenever there is a retirement and its will be an upward adjustment of staff.
However, Mr. Thompson made it clear that the suspension of recruitment and the downward adjustment in some civil servants’ salaries does not affect the security sector, health and education (teachers).
Mr. S. Emmanuel Lloyd, Assistant Director Strategy Development and Forecasting at the Budget Policy Section said that at the moment for anyone to get on central government payroll will be very be difficult. He said the retirement of the 4000 employees from the government is intended to free the payroll system.
Asked while people are complaining about their salaries being drastically cut, he said what civil servants including nurses and doctors are receiving in their salary accounts are 35% of the earnings which are in Liberian Dollars, while the remaining 65% is being pay in United States Dollars and Finance officials have asked those employees without the USD account to open same for the transfer of their USD salary component.
He said while other sectors have been negatively affected the security sector, health and education have received a boost, saying an extra USD135 has been added across the board for the security officers.
As of now, government employees are 72,000 in number, while the actual number of civil servants on government payroll is about 43, 800. The rest of the 28, 200 are individuals who were one way or the other recruited through political connections and were being pay through the allowance system.
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