Monrovia – The salary and or incentives of lawmakers have always been one of the untouchables of the Legislature. Lawmakers have kept to their chests the information about how much they earn monthly from taxpayers’ monies. It was a campaign promise by candidate Abraham Darius Dillon to make public his salary and incentives as a senator if elected by electorates of Montserrado County something all the lawmakers have considered sacred and personal.
For a little over a month since being elected and installed Senator of Montserrado County, critics of Dillon have chastised him for failing to live up to a campaign promise he made to make his salary and benefits public. Until Tuesday, September 24, Sen. Dillon had always claimed of not being informed about his entitlements as Senator.
Apparently adhering to his critics’ pressure, Dillon Tuesday, came public in fulfillment of one of his many campaign promises by announcing his salary and benefits as a senator. Sen. Dillon disclosed that the accumulation of his grossed benefits as a Senators is US$15,325 with a basic salary of L$29,700.
Dillon, who claimed he hasn’t received a dime including gasoline since he took over as Senator, said he received in “handwriting” from Bomi County Senator Morris Saytumah, Chairman of the Senate’s Ways, Means, and Finance, his financial entitlement. According to him, Sen. Saytumah’s handwritten script allegedly shows that his (Dillon’s) special allowance is US$15,000 including a special allowance accounting for US$10K. Also in the bulk figure, transportation reimbursement allowance accounts for US$3,175 while the monetary value for gasoline for him is US$2,150.
“I am not speculating and I am not saying it is around or close to. I am giving an exact figure when you do tax deduction you come to US$12k every month in addition to L$29,700 in salary. “I believe this amount is too high, that is why I am taking US$5K out of this amount and returning the rest of the money to Montserrado County so that the people can determine what they want to do in terms of developmental and humanitarian needs.”
At a news conference on Tuesday, September 24, the Montserrado County Senator believes that if every member of the Montserrado County Legislative Caucus can return US$5K toward public school developments, and upgrading of the health sectors, Montserrado will earn US$60K monthly. “And if that practice is reciprocated on the national scene by the 103 lawmakers, the government could generate and save US$1.3 million every month and US$20 million annually.
“If we take US$15K and put it in our pockets and people believe their money is in our pockets, they will come to us begging. I don’t want to be a humanitarian on government money especially when I am a policymaker. “I am doing this as a mark of protest to demonstrate to my people and my colleagues that under this difficult period, we can live with US$5,000, and use the balance to equip our government schools and hospitals.”
My Office Will Use the Car
Sen. Dillon also took the time to respond to another critical aspect of his leadership. He has come over immense criticism for accepting a vehicle assigned to him by the Government of Liberia. The car costs US$40k. Responding to his critics, he said the vehicle issued him is by government’s policy not to buy a used vehicle and it is given to him for three years. According to him, he inherited the vehicle that was bought for the late Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, whom he replaced. The vendors were only made to transfer ownership of the vehicle to him.
The policy to pay for those cars was crafted, signed, approved and the car was paid for already by the government even before the seat became vacant. The car is US$40K for three years’ usage.
“Those of my opponents, who say the car is too costly for me to ride buy us a US$13,300 car in keeping with government policy, we will use it. If the government’s policy is for us to ride and keep, I will use it. The car is for the government for three years and after three years the government will sell the car at a depreciated rate.” culled frontpageafrica/Henry Karmo
Main Photo, Liberian Observer, Senator Abraham Dillion