Young Liberian writer and activist, Martin K.N. Kollie, is calling on occupants of the six “big offices” in Liberia to cut down on recurrent expenditure of their various offices by 30% and redirect the savings towards projects that will impact the lives of the impoverished citizenry.
Disclosing that Liberia is spending US$10.2 Million dollars in the 2016/2017 fiscal year on just six public offices, namely: President, Vice President, Speaker, Senate Pro Tempore, Deputy Speaker and Chief Justice, Kollie said the budget of the six offices far exceeds the two biggest referral hospitals in Liberia: the JFK Medical Center (US$5.3 million) and the Jackson F. Doe Hospital (US$2.9 million). Providing an incisive breakdown of the budget for the six big offices, Kollie said the office of the president receives US$3.9 million a year, while the office of the Vice President receives US$2.4 million. Others include the President Pro-Tempore US$1.3m, Office of the Speaker US$1,000,370, office of the Deputy Speaker US$930,132, while the office of the Chief Justice gets US$616,374. The activist is calling on the president of Liberia and officials of the six big offices to cut down their annual budgets to at least 30% to set example for Ministers, Directors, Lawmakers, Consultants, Managing Directors and other public officials who will be forced to follow suit. Kollie noted on the Capitol Breakfast Show yesterday that it is necessary that the salaries of high ranking officials “in this poverty stricken country be reduced to 30% given the harsh economic realities the country faces”. “If the president as the chief executive officer can decide and willingly cut her salary, all the ministers, lawmakers, managing directors and consultants will do the same. As was done in Tanzania, President John Pombe Magufuli cut down his salary and allowance which went across the board, this should happen to Liberian officials,” he said. According to him, the intent of exposing the disparities in salaries and expenditures of public officials is to attract the attention of government to help mitigate some of the prevailing issues that confront the people of Liberia. Kollie noted that his motivation for exposing societal ills through his writings is borne of the fact that over 81% of Liberians still live in abject poverty after 12 years of democratic rule and 14 years of interrupted peace. “It is time to disintegrate these barriers to allow Liberians live decent lives,” he noted. The young Liberian activist disclosed that he got resource material for his write-up from primary and secondary sources and from some individual in government who furnished him with basic and accurate information for public consumption. “Those officials are not satisfied, but cannot voice their frustrations because they are in government, so they give us the information, to raise these national issues and elevate the national discourse,” he averred. Breaking down the budget of the president, Kollie disclosed that the president’s basic salary is US$75,000, special allowances US$90,000, foreign travel US$276,000, foreign daily travel subsistence allowance US$210,000 and foreign travel incidental allowance US$105,000. He narrated that domestic travel cost US$112,500, domestic travel incidental US$239,686, fuel and lubricant US$330,000, stationary US$20,000, and repair and maintenance of vehicles US$ 85,000. Others are, publication and binding costing US$60,000, consultancy US$550,000, special presidential project US$650,000, special operation services US$250,000. According to Kollie, the consultancy expenses of the Liberian leader can pay over 352 teachers in a year, while the special presidential project and special operation services can pay over 361 nurses and 265 immigration officers in a year. For the office of the Vice President, Kollie said US$109,188 is allotted as basic salary. He further noted that the special allowance of the VP is US$215,688, foreign travel – means of travel –US$113,000,foreign travel daily subsistence allowance US$112,000, foreign travel incidental allowance US$50,000, domestic travel daily subsistence allowance US$512,116, telecoms, Internet, Postage and Courier US$20,440 and fuel and lubricant for vehicle S$70,755, fuel and Lubricant generator – US$111,176 , repairs and maintenance – Civil US$12,000, repairs and Maintenance of Vehicles –US$89,936 and repairs and Maintenance, Machinery Equipment US$2,900, Stationery – US$35,120, consultancy Services US$36,000,food and Catering Services US$38,004, and entertainment and Gifts – US$79,596 As for the Senate Pro tempore, government provides a basic Salary of US$105,227, Special Allowance – US$362,000, foreign Travel – Means of Travel – US$29,849, Foreign Travel Daily Subsistence Allowance – US$22,478, Foreign Travel Incidental Allowance – US$2,415, Domestic Travel Means of Travel – US$7,800, Telecoms, Internet, Postage and Courier – US$3,360, and Residential Property Rental and Lease – US$3,358. Others include Fuel and Lubricant – Vehicle – US$84,850, Fuel and Lubricant – Generator – US$33,408, Stationery – US$15,000, Printing, Publication and Binding – US$4,477, Other Specialized Material – US$54,411, Local Scholarship – US$6,028, Entertainment and Gifts – US$22,943, Operational Expenses – US$15,000, Constituency Visit – US$33,589, and General Allowance – US$227,562.