WHEN LAWMAKERS elected by the people of Liberia continue to use and abuse their powers through submission and passages of insensitive and outrageous legislations to better their own lives at the expense of those who elected them, the presidency must do what is right as the last hope for those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.
THIS IS WHY we welcome reports emanating out of the Executive Mansion that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is contemplating vetoing the controversial pension bill which has been languishing on her desk for several weeks now.
TO UNDERSTAND the outrageousness of the proposed legislation, one needs only to turn to the United States of America from whence Liberia mirrors much of its laws and policies to see how members of the national legislature in a country with a population of just over four million are determined to damage the progress and gains made by a post-war nation emerging from war.
THE BILL among other things seeks pension and retirement benefits for life for the President, Vice President, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore and members of the Liberian Senate as well as elected members of the chambers of the national legislature, the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the Subordinate Courts.
WHILE NO one is against rewarding those who serve their nation, the decision to decide what a retired lawmaker gets must be made with caution and with the plight of the constituents in mind.
FOR A RETIRED President, Vice President, Speaker, Pro Temp and lawmaker elected by the people of Liberia to demand through such a bill, annuities in monthly payments equal to twenty five(25) and fifty percent(50%) of their monthly allowances and benefits, speaks volumes to the insensitive nature of those representing Liberia in the national legislature.
THE LAWMAKERS are proposing for the remainder of their lives, full medical benefits, full EPS protection, a Diplomatic Passport, Duty Free Privileges for all personal effects, a vehicle once every three years and at least five personal staff to include a secretary, a cook, a butler, and a driver.
THE LAWMAKERS ARE also proposing that upon the death demise, their surviving spouse should continue to receive benefits.
EVEN THOSE ELECTED to serve in the great United States of America do not get such benefits after leaving offices and when they do, it is for those who have served multiple terms and comes long after they leave public office.
UNDER U.S. LAWS, members of Congress do not receive their full pay as a pension upon leaving office. That’s the case whether they served one term or several.
THE BASIC ELIGIBILITY for collecting a pension is as follows, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress: CRS, June 13: Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.
THESE LAWMAKERS IN LIBERIA want all of these outrageous benefits right after they are voted out of office. They want taxpayers, many of whom are constituents they failed to represent properly, to fund their lives after they have been voted out of office. They want a small country like Liberia to fund EPS protection, pay for cooks, staff and other annuities without identifying the source of funding for such a costly operation likely to hurt the very constituents who elected them?
HOW WOULD SUCH a scheme affect education, poverty reduction, health and other essentials?
WITH THE COUNTRY already strap for cash, the proposal being thrown around is likely to draw anger from those struggling to make ends meet and barely getting by.
THESE ARE THE KINDS of decisions that led this country to war and history appears to be repeating itself when senseless and heartless lawmakers hide behind a pension plan that is miles away from the realities of Liberia and a glaring insult to the people of Liberia.
PRESIDENT SIRLEAF, if she has not already must say no to this and send a strong message to those in the legislature that this insensitive bill belongs in the garbage and is not fit for any leader in their right mind to approve.
THE PENSION bill belongs in the dark ages. It is the kind of document the some of these very elected officials fought against in the past and took exception to from leaders of the past. Yet, in this day and age, they are determine to inflict economic hardship on a country emerging from war while enhancing their own elitist lifestyle to the detriment of the poor, the major reason why President Sirleaf must reject this trashy piece of legislation with nothing to offer Liberia. Culled from the FPA