Public officials within the Executive Branch of government are said to be fired up, reportedly with the mandate from the Chief Executive himself that they should exert every available means and resources to reclaim Montserrado County from Senator Abraham Darius Dillon in the December 8, 2020 midterm senatorial elections. Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr, seems well ahead in executing the president’s mandate. During one of his speaking engagements in support of senatorial aspirant Representative Thomas Fallah, Mr. Tweah railed against Senator Dilllon’s call for a reduction in legislators’ salaries, by stressing to the audience that salary reduction of legislators would mean a direct reduction in the voters’ livelihood because they depend on the legislators for support. Mr. Tweah also said that the Weah administration has drastically reduced spending, especially for the president’s office, as compared to the administration of former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Unity Party acting Secretary General Mohammed (Mo) Ali has taken serious exception to Mr. Tweah’s allegations, terming them as outright falsehoods.
According to Mr. Mo Ali, “while on the campaign trail for Thomas Fallah, Minister of Finance Samuel D. Tweah, Jr, who has gained notoriety for spewing out falsehoods, stated the following: “Under President Sirleaf, the Office of the President got US$20 million in 2016. When George Weah came in, he cut it to US$9 million, saving the Liberian government US$11 million.”
Mo Ali Fact-Checks Samuel Tweah
A review of the National Budget for Fiscal Year 2018/2019, the first annual budget passed under the administration of the CDC-led government headed by President George Weah shows that Minister Tweah again lied to the general public. Here are the facts:
1) The budget for the Office of the President under both President Sirleaf and President Weah have never exceeded US$4.5 million. So, wherever Minister Tweah is taking his US$20 million and US$9 million is the biggest mystery of the year.
2) The actual amount spent on the Office of the President during the 2016-2017 Budget was US$4,495,075. In the 2017-2018 Budget, US$3,421,979 was budgeted but the government actually spent US$2,839,493 during the period as reflected in the 2017/2018 Outturn.
3) Under President Weah, the Office of the President was allotted the amount of USS3,385,823 in the 2018/2019 Budget.
4) The Special Allowance appropriation under the Office of the President is the line that is exclusively used to pay the salary of the president. The General Allowance appropriation is used to pay other staffers in the Office of the President. In 2016/2017, the Liberian government actually paid US$89,886 to President Sirleaf as salary. In the 2017/2018 Budget, US$90,000 was allocated as salary for the President of Liberia (7/12th of that amount was paid to President Sirleaf as she served for seven months as President during that fiscal year (July 2017- January 2018) and 5/12th of that amount was paid to President Weah as he served for five months of the fiscal year (February 2016-June 2016).
5) In 2018/2019 National Budget, the Office of the President was again allotted the amount of US$90,000, the same amount that had been allotted when Madam Sirleaf was President of Liberia. The fact that there has been no downward change in the Special Allowance appropriation under President Weah proves that, contrary to the pronouncement by President Weah that he would take a 25% salary cut, President Weah is actually taking 100% of the salary allotted for the President.
6) A review of the Budget of the Office of the President proves that while Office of the President was allotted US$548,861 services in the 2016/2017 Budget, nothing was appropriated for consultancy services under the Office of the President in 2018/2019. Also, the Foreign and Domestic Travel appropriations under the Office of the President in 2016 were all higher than what they were in 2018/2019 under President Sirleaf. Madam Sirleaf travelled a lot and brought enormous benefits to the country and undertook nationwide tours almost on a yearly basis, unlike President Weah who has not undertaken his first nationwide tour since he assumed the Presidency.
7) A comparison of the Special Operations Appropriation, which can be used mainly at the discretion of the President, under President Sirleaf versus that of President Weah shows a troubling fact. In 2016/17, only US$267,209 was allotted for Special Operation Services. President Weah increased this amount to US$1,370,000 in 2018/2019, a difference of more than a million dollars.
In conclusion, I call on Minister Tweah to just stop lying to the Liberian people. Minister Tweah, the lies you told about ending the year with a budget surplus when in fact you ended with a huge budget deficit, the lie about making a salary above US$500,000, the lie about the resource swap, the lie about ETON and EBOMAF and many others should be enough. THE LIBERIAN PEOPLE ARE NOT FOOLS”.
See below a copy of the budget of the Office of the President in the National Budget for Fiscal Year 2018/2019. Appropriations for the FY 2018/2019 are shown in the fourth column while the actual amounts spent in the 2016/2017 are shown in the first column.