By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
The word “chopping” in the Liberian parlance refers to situations in which individuals request extra fees or money to perform certain functions for which they are hired or employed. Besides, it denotes an act of corrupt practice where individuals use their offices or position to amass wealth for themselves, to the detriment of the institution they work for.
And so when the word is preceded by the word, “extra,” as a modifier or adjective, to form the phrase, “EXTRA CHOPPING,” it simply shows the degree of insensitivity by these “choppers”’ for only being concerned about themselves and not the institution or the state. Nauseatingly, people are denied services only because they fail to adhere to this kind of corrupt practices.
The issue of chopping was one of those negative vices in the Liberian society that this year’s Independence Day Orator, Liberia’s former Ambassador to the United States, Charles Minor highlighted in his operation to the country last Monday in Greenville, Sinoe County.
On this issue, the orator, a son of Sinoe County, noted:” Another negative attitude amongst many of us is that characterized by “I win and you lose”. In the job market, for example, one finds this syndrome well played out. Many individuals desperately search for jobs, but their intention is not to carry out the functions of the job. They mainly seek means to obtain money. As soon as they can, they begin to make profits on the job. Profit is another definition of what is illegally or fraudulently taken from their employers or the entities. They say to themselves, “What is mine is mine and what is yours, I should take away from you, even from our national coffers, and make it exclusively mine!” And that goes across our society, in the upper, middle, and lower classes.”
He further said, ‘ In some circles, that is referred to as “chopping”, a term used both as subject and predicate. Such “chopping” more often than not, is obtained fraudulently. This attitude of extra “chopping,” is becoming a measure of how good a job is. Paymasters must “chop” something from the employees they pay.”
The former ambassador explained: “Service providers expect fat extra tips that exceed their daily wages or even their salaries. Employees are found to be leaving their jobs if those jobs provide no opportunity for “chopping!” Civil servants expect lunch money to enable them to render the service they are engaged to render. Even some agencies of Government are now making provision for “facilitation” fees in their budget and expenditure accounting to ensure they can payoff whoever needs to be paid off for the entities to accomplish their mission. Those attitudes and practices cannot be parts of the foundation blocks for accelerated development in our society.”
Unsurprisingly, this issue of chopping, especially so as it relates to providing services or good customers’ services was also one of the many topical issues raised by the host of the truth FM Breakfast Show- Solomon Ware and Abraham “God-Sent” Wion. During the discussions the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), was said to be creating room for this “extra chopping” because of its failure to respond promptly to customers or would-be customers’ services.
Another issue by the discussants on this extra chopping is the poor customers’ services in service-providing institutions only because a customer or client fails to give this “extra chopping” before services are provided, or before a customer or would-be customer is catered to.
Indeed, the issue of “extra chopping” has now become a culture in many work places, thus, depriving those institutions of generating needed income and also in providing those services for which they were established.
Today, the issue of customers’ services can be likened to the ‘higher bidder’ who gets prompt or speedy services or attention, than those who fail to comply with these bad practices at these work places. Indisputably, these kind of corrupt practices create bad public relations to these institutions, as it drives away some potential people and also affect the income of these institutions.
As the headlines suggests, once the order of the day is for individual interest and not that of the institution, then, the institution stands to lose some of its expected income, because the individual (worker or employee) is only concerned about himself or herself than that of the institution that employed or hired him or her.
As in the case of the LEC, because it usually drags its feet in providing services, criminal-minded individuals use this to provide illegal services to people in need, thereby depriving the corporation of needed income. The Corporation needs to revisit its modus operandi to attract more customers and also in providing better services. Many times the Corporation speaks of illegal services that are robbing it from needed income. It means it has to act to curtail this by catering to the demand and prompt services in case of a problem.
Likewise, in some banks, as was also mentioned, customers have to needlessly spend hours to be served, as some workers or tellers only receive slips from the back because of what they would accrue from such higher bidders. This, too, has the propensity to discourage many customers of those banks from moving to similar institutions with good customers’ services.
This situation of chopping, as observed by the orator is even found in the status quo, as certain amounts are being put into budget to facilitate some government service. Actually, in such a situation, this is bribery, which is criminalized under our jurisprudence, as this law opposes receiving money as an “inducement” to perform official duty. There was a recent case of some officials of government or former officials were held for this. That is, for allegedly receiving money to perform official duty.
As the orator put it, ”Even some agencies of Government are now making provision for “facilitation” fees in their budget and expenditure accounting to ensure they can payoff whoever needs to be paid off for the entities to accomplish their mission. Those attitudes and practices cannot be parts of the foundation blocks for accelerated development in our society.
I certainly agree with the orator that, “Those attitudes and practices cannot be parts of the foundation blocks for accelerated development in our society.”
Yes, we as a people, no matter where we find ourselves to contribute to national development and growth, must shun this corrupt practice in providing better services and also in protecting our various institutions.
Those of us, who have been called to public service, whether by election or appointment, MUST render services, putting the interest of our institutions and country above our personal interest.
Until we realize that ‘extra chopping” could deny better services and also affect the income of institutions, I Rest My Case.