The increased democratic space in Liberia, coupled with its accessories of free speech and civil liberties for which many fought and died, has blossomed in the last couple of years. Luckily or unluckily, President George Weah government’s advent has coincided with increasing rise in civic consciousness amongst the people. Everyone citizen or group has dabbled into the fray, pouring their gut to say something assumed wrong in the palace of political power. Even the Church, which has stood as the moral conscience of the nation over the years, is maximizing the amiable rights-studded environment. This is clearly evident in the austere tune of the Resolution of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) released at the end of its 32nd General Assembly. The LCC, as The Analyst reports, is calling on radical reduction in public servants’, including the Head of State’s salaries, amongst other recommendations.
December 1, 2018, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) put a stamp on its 32nd General Assembly with a powerful resolution that reels through a horde of social and religious issues, though not forgetting to tacitly pick bone with the current government on a few policy issues.
The LCC has weighed in on attempts by President George Weah to turn all tenured positions into ordinary executive positions serving at his will and pleasure. It seems the LCC is disagreeing with the President as it used its General Assembly Resolution to express full support for the “creation and maintenance of Tenured Positions within the system of the Government of Liberia for the purposes of ensuring accountability, transparency and stability within our governance process and interventions.”
That Resolution proposition comes as the National Legislature is on the verge of passing on the Bill submitted by the President to scrap tenure shields off all such positions save for commissions specifically mentioned in the 1986 Constitution.
As if that was not sufficient, the LCC also went on to request Government radically reduce salaries of the President, Vice President, and members of the National Legislature.
The LCC’s position on those matters confirms the recommendations contained in a report submitted by a special committee on the national economy headed by veteran economist and politician, Togba-Nah Tipoteh.
Said the LCC in the Resolution: “That the LCC call a special meeting of Heads of Churches of the LCC and Churches in general to review and submit to the Government of Liberia recommendations contained in the report of the Ecumenical Economic Policy Committee (EEPC), which was organized by the Liberia Council of Churches and ecumenical collaborators to study and advise the church on the remedies to the poor performance of the national economy with key attention to the reduction of huge salaries in government circles, promotion of agricultural production, fight against fraud, abuse and waste, etc.
“Amongst the 13-main recommendations of the committee is the proposal to transform the national budget and allocation of resources by making the following budgetary reductions or adjustments: Presidency – President’s salary – to US$5,000 per month, Vice President’s salary – to US$4,500 per month; Speaker’s salary – to US$4,000 per month, Legislators’ salaries – to US$3,500 per month, Cabinet Ministers’ salaries – US$3,000 per month, amongst others, in order to send a clear message “that any person who goes to work in government goes there to SERVE and not to make money…” This step is recommended to help redirect resources from the national budget to our development agenda.”
The LCC also resolved to call on the government of Liberia to take the necessary measures to stabilize the challenges facing the economy i.e. hike in prices of basic commodities, unstable exchange rate, reported corruption, and to review action of withdrawal of US$25 million from Liberia’s international reserves in New York to map-out excess “Liberty” currency from the market, etc., in order to ease the suffering of the masses.
In other portions of the Resolution, the LCC expressed full supports to the Call by the President of National Council of Churches in the United States, Rev. James E. Winkler during the formal opening ceremony of the 32nd General Assembly of the Liberia Council of Churches to the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump to grant reprieve to Liberians threatened with deportation from the United States due to the expiration of their Temporary Protective Status/Deferred Enforced Departure – TPS/DED by March 31, 2019, and the pledge to cooperate with the Liberia Council of Churches and other relevant actors to lobby against the deportation threat because the “Bible commends us to welcome the sojourners”
The group commended efforts by the Governments of Liberia and the United States of America to investigate circumstances surrounding the importation of Liberian through the Freeport and Airport to the tune of LD16 billion and make the findings public.
The Resolution also called for establishing a program to work with the Educational system in our country to promote quality education with a focus on family, community and the society. The group resolved to partner with UNAIDS to strongly advocate and seriously create awareness on HIV and AIDS and Tuberculosis and also promote index testing;
“That LCC also resolved to partner with the Government of Liberia through its specialized Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (MACs) to foster awareness in HIV and AIDS and other diseases as well as championing the fight against domestic violence and rape,” LCC further asserts, calling for the full and timely implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report and commended the United States House of Representatives for passing Resolution 1055 reaffirming support for the full implementation of the TRC report in Liberia.
The LCC used the Resolution to offer special thanks and appreciation to our foreign ecumenical friends and partners from the National Council of Churches in the United States of America (NCC) represented by its President, Rev. Dr. James E. Winkler; All-Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) represented by its President, Bishop Arnold C. Temple; World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) represented by its Associate General Secretary, Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, PhD; the Vice President of the Liberia Minister Association of North America; Rev. and Pastor Amos and Grace Komolafe from Prayer Trust London; as well as our local ecumenical partners that included: Association of Evangelicals of Liberia, the National Christian Council of Liberia, Liberia Fellowship of Full Gospel Ministers, the New Africa Research and Development Agency, National Union of the Disabled of Liberia, the Liberia Refugee, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission who witnessed and actively participated in the Thirty-Second general assembly.