Wage Harmonization Is Revolutionary -Pay, Employment Regime Set, Millions Saved

Since the days of People’s Redemption Council (PRC), when that rather populist regime toppled the hegemonic True Whig Party, the euphoria for participation and inclusion after 133 years of political exclusion into Government became expressed in ballooning the then tight, family-size public service. Since that time, the country’s wage bill became to exponentially grow beyond elastic limit as a result of a combination of other factors, including the sporadic creation of political subdivisions, the clamorous recruitment of partisans, family and fraternal supporters and the furtive padding of nonexistent names on payrolls for pecuniary gains. It is not clear how the grim the situation with the wage bill fared before and after the civil conflict. What is clear is that between 2005/2006 and 2019, the Liberian wage bill, meaning the amount of national budget spent on salaries and emoluments, jumped from US$30 million to a whooping US$322 million. Despite efforts by the erstwhile Ellen Johnson Sirleaf presidency and its international partners deflate the bloated government payroll, all efforts provided futile. But in months, the current administration which is choked by the situation has got no option but to have the near-impossible done in no more than a year, and many pundits think it is quick revolutionary and commendable. The Analyst reports.

Government’s economic management team has finally released details of its pay harmonization initiative and there are indications that contrary to naysayers that it was salary cut against the interest of ordinary civil publics, much savings are accrued and spread over long disadvantaged civil servants.

When news of the effort first leaked to the public, uninformed segment of the public and opposition elements seeking points to inflamed angers against the establishment began interpreting the pay harmonization process as attempts by the George Weah administration to increase the woes of civil servants.

At the regular Ministry of Information press briefing Thursday, July 4, 2019, the Steering Committee on Wage Bill Harmonization calmed nerves when they provided methodical explanations and distributed Face Sheet on what they exercise entailed and what it owes to benefit Government, public servants and the general public.

One of the most easiest point to understand is that there is an addition of US$50 monthly pay for each Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) Officer, Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) Officer and the Liberia Drug Enforcement (LDEA) Officer.

There is also additional US$36 added on the monthly pay for each officer of the Liberian National Police (LNP) and US$30 added on the monthly pay for each officer of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

These categories of public servants, for decades, have languished at the lower ebb of Government’s pay system.

Another easy to understand is that 10,200 high-up government workers—the big, big people including those appointed by the President—were negatively affected with the reduction of their monthly salaries.

The reduction from the big government people put plenty money aside that will be used to pay those formerly low-paid government workers and do other important development projects in the country.

The only big people in government and other civil servants who the wage harmonization did not affect at all are those working at the National Legislature and the Judiciary.

It is not known exactly how much Government saved in total if money was taken away from the salaries of those working at the Judiciary and Legislature.

However, according to those who carried out the pay harmonization, the Government payroll which took away about 60 per cent of the entire national budget is reduced to around 40 percent—some many analysts say is very important for government which needs more money to take development to every nook and corner of the country.

What is also clear, and which many ordinary Liberians will celebrate, is those who were getting very low people are stepped up by US$50 or more and that those who were making plenty money as monthly salary are stepped down severely.

The Government of President George Weah is saying that it carried out the pay harmonization to create equity in how much government workers get across all ministries, agencies and commissions so that people doing the same job get the same pay and no gets money over their peers only because some big people know them.

The government also did the harmonizing of salaries because while about 43,000 civil servants were paid according to pay grade set by the Civil Service Agency, others not under the CSA were not under any pay grade but paid through something called general allowance.

The exercise will continue to be carried out so that government payroll remains around 40 percent of the national budget, according to the Facts Sheet produced by the Government.

Start July, 2019, there will be only one pay for each public servant called salary, which will be the sum of the employee’s basic salary and allowance where possible.

According to the government, employees who are currently earning above their assessed grade, their pay will be adjusted downward to their harmonized pay effective July, 2019. But as a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to affect upward adjustment, other employees within the security sector will receive immediate upward adjustment beginning the same period.

Already, the government found out that 66,538 of its employees have been graded or categorized covering about 100 spending entities under the Executive Branch. They include teachers, health workers, security officers, Foreign Service employees, and presidential appointees among others excluding the Judiciary and Legislature;

Of the 66,538 employees from central government, 56,338 or 85% of these employees were protected from any downward adjustment in pay. They include teachers, health workers, security officers, Foreign Service employees and employees currently earning below their assessed pay grade.

It has been agreed by the Government that the Civil Service Agency (CSA) will now take full charge of recruitment of civil servants, amongst other things germane to its fiduciary responsibilities.

Beginning July 2019, the following new policy change has been effected to guide the GoL

Payroll Harmonization and Reforms efforts:

There will be the Application of Uniformed Policy & Standards using the CSA Merit-Base Recruitment; Human Resource Management Policy, and Civil Service Standing Orders.

The Management of GOL Personnel Actions will now be centralize through the CSA which include Recruitment and Selection; Promotion, Transfer, Deletion; Classification & Grading; and Testing and Evaluation through the Performance Management System

The head of the CSA during a press conference in Monrovia said he Management of GoL Payroll System will now be Centralize through the CSA single payroll and single pay system.

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