Lawmaker Condemns Scrapping of $30K -Says Senators’ Rejection Was Selfish, Fake

Representative Rusolyn Suacoco Dennis of District #4, Montserrado County has spoken sharply against the disparity that exists in the budgetary allotment between the Liberian Senate and the House of Representative as well as the jumbo package allotted to the offices of the President Pro Tempore, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, as compared to what other lawmakers receive. She also stated that the decision of the Liberian Senate to scrap the $30,000 provided for each lawmaker in the draft national budget was not for the good for country as it is been insinuated but a selfish decision against members of the House of Representatives.

Representative Dennis made the assertion recently via a social media post to address the decision made by the Liberian Senate to remove the controversial $30,000.00 placed in the draft national budget for each lawmaker to use as “legislative engagement”, which had generated a lot of condemnation from the public given the poor state of the economy and the dwindling living condition of the ordinary citizens.

The District #4 Representative said there was more to the $30,000 than meets the eye, and that the real issues lie with the uneven distribution of budgetary allocation between the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives, which makes the Upper Chamber to receive more money despite being just 30 persons as compared to the House of Representatives that are 73 but receive little.

“These are the most probable reasons why the Senate does not need the most-talked-about 430k. I strongly believe that it is not because of love for the country, it is most likely because they have more means of revenue generation to take home and $30k is too small to be insulted for.

“Firstly the  legislature has a budget that fluctuates between S48m, S52m, $59m etc per budget year. The first error is in the distribution. We have flagged this up numerous times. That is a ratio of 1:3 v. 2:3.The senate seat is static, two persons per county unlike the representative seats that change based on population. Currently there are 73 Representatives and 30 senators. 1:3 v. 2:3 automatically gives them an extremely high figure in every division at legislature”, she said.

Representative Dennis said this uneven proportion was derived from the time the number of representatives stood at 66 and the Senate at 30 but there was an increment for the Representatives by seven bringing it to the current figure of 73 members but then the ratio remained the same. She said with this, the senators are exponentially higher in benefits, salaries, committee budget, etc and in such case $30,000.00 is not as needed by the Senators as compared to the Representatives, adding that most besides the electorates don’t hold the Senators for community initiatives like they do to Representatives.

“The second and most heinous and wicked error is from the budget line allotted to the office of the Pro temp & Speaker, Deputy, speaker. Here I am discussing these offices and not necessarily an attack on Sen. Chie, Reps. Chambers and Koffa, because this hard core social and economical injustice has been going on long before their occupations”, she said.

She lamented that the budget is designed by the executive only to include special budgets for these three offices in the entire legislature, mentioning that the office of the speaker gets $2m per year, Deputy Speaker nets $1.4m and the President Pro Tempore has $1.8M for the same period while there is no budget for any other member of both houses.

Representative Dennis traced the current predicament of members of the national legislature to the administration of the late President William VS Tubman who according to her handpicked local farmers, villagers and local chiefs for 27 years of his tenure and led him to only having the most competent ones mainly his cronies to occupied those positions and the poor chiefs, farmers and local villagers had no clue or needed no fight in that devastating social and economical injustice.

She said although today the variables have changed, some members of the national legislature are still entrapped by what she called the Tubman syndrome whilst others are in cohort with this modern day embezzlement. Today the variables have changed, but some members are still entrapped by Tubman’s syndrome whilst others are in cohort with this modern day embezzlement.

The first time lawmaker further stated that the reality is that there is no way, 30 men including women will sit and one person, only first amongst equals will have an increasing budget every year whilst the others are on zero line.

“Kind of think about that, you think it is naivety, ignorance and perplexity? I am prone to believe that it is more of a criminal conspiracy right before the eyes of everyone. Once it is captured in the head budget, it can reach up to 5m. The public seems not to be concerned about this, only 30k allotted to members for genuine reasons, what an ignorant society…Wake up!

“It is easier to have up to 2m, 3m and even 5m in the head of the senate budget and 1m be divided amongst 29 members and they can receive up to 34k per senator just from budget alone and they don’t need to be insulted by anyone for 30k which practically does no significant help to their respective counties”, she said

She noted that the benefits of the senators apart from salaries give them more than 30k which according to her technically they and the Pro Tempore don’t really need 30k. She threw a challenge to the senators that if they love the Liberian people, as they are claiming to love the people, they should remove what she called the unrealistic budget of $1.5m and drop it to $144k which she said will be the annual pay per member.

“Similar 144k to the office of the Speaker and 108k to the office of the Deputy speaker and let them ensure that each member has an operational budget. Everyone has a District and need for operational expenses .This is real love. Not fake love to gain favor from uninformed public”, she concluded.

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