The Liberian Cabinet has endorsed a number of recommendations in line with the ongoing reforms of the civil service.
When fully implemented, the recommendations will bring an end to the practice of the dual payroll system, collapse various benefits such as gas slips and scratch cards into one compensation package for political appointees, and ensure uniformity in general allowances across the public bureaucracy.
According to a release from the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, the Cabinet, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, reached the decision on Friday, November 15, after hours of deliberations, during which the Minister of Finance presented a comprehensive report on the current state of the Liberian economy, and the Director-General of the Civil Service Agency informed about the extent of ongoing reforms in the civil service.
The two officials confirmed that while the changes will lead to an uptick in the salaries of political appointees – currently amongst the lowest in the sub-region and which have not been improved for years – the exercise will also reduce the increasing recurrent costs of operating the government, including costs of vehicle repairs and maintenance, scratch cards and gas slips which will be collapsed into a single compensation by which the political appointees, rather than the government, will assume these costs.
The recommendations, which will be fully implemented by the end of January next year, could see Cabinet Ministers earn US$6,000 monthly; Deputy Ministers and Ambassadors, US$4,500; and Assistant Ministers, US$3,000 and all would pay directly for their scratch cards, gas slips and vehicle repairs and maintenance.
The full implementation will also see the end of disparities in the disbursements of general allowances. The projected increase is also tied to the scrupulous implementation of the performance contracts signed between political appointees and the President.
In welcoming the decision, President Sirleaf reminded the Cabinet of the urgent need to lower the recurrent expenditure of the government so as to invest the savings in much-needed Public Sector Investments Projects (PSIPs).
These projects, which include roads, ICT, power and ports, the President said, will have multiplying effects in expanding the economy, lowering the costs of living and doing business in the country, and will provide new opportunities for employment for all Liberians.
According to MICAT, the President directed the Cabinet to cooperate with and assist in accelerating ongoing efforts to clean up the payroll of the government, as well as increase the salaries of civil servants and service personnel, including teachers and health workers, whom she referred to as the unsung heroes and heroines of the ongoing transformation of the country.
Meanwhile, the Government of Liberia has included over two thousand health workers on its payroll. The health workers were previously paid by a number of international non-governmental organizations.