MONROVIA, Jan. 14 (LINA) – Deputy Finance Minister for Budget and Development Planning, Tanneh G. Brunson. has said that the Government through the Joint Payroll Management Team observed during its two-year validation period that the wage bill was enormous and crowded out the fiscal space of the Government.
The team, according to Min. Brunson, also uncovered that there was gross disparity among people in similar categories and that across government all entities had assumed the responsibility to hire civil servants.
“Some possibly were in the wrong category based on their qualifications and some worked multiple jobs in the same government,” she disclosed.
The MFDP official was speaking on Thursday at the start of a one-day education and training workshop to sharpen the knowledge and skills of Human Resource Officers (HRs), Comptrollers and payroll analysts, from spending entities of Central Government on ‘Payroll Processing’.
The workshop, which is centered on central Government’s payroll adjustments and processing for Comptrollers and Human Resource managers, seeks to also achieve a timely payment of salary for Civil Servants across the country.
Min. Brunson stated that the workshop is a governmental joint initiative being implemented by the MFDP, Civil Service Agency (CSA),the National Identification Registry (NIR) along with all other spending entities of the Liberian Government.
According to the MFDP Deputy Minister, the process started about two years ago and is aimed at securing additional fiscal space to enable the Government implement activities identified in the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
“To understand the numbers, we found it necessary to do a nose dive into compensation and related expenditures across the Government. This was a time consuming exercise but a worthy one,” Madam Brunson noted.
She stated that with the introduction of the harmonization process and the subsequent introduction of the National Identification Scheme coupled with the mandatory registration requirements of all government employees and consultants, the government has begun to see positive results.
Min. Brunson added that there is still much more to be done to sustain the gains made by the Government as a means of ensuring a more comprehensive approach to managing the wage bill of the country.
“There is still a need to manage not payroll processing but also recruitment, attendance and mostly to ensure the validity of employees. That is why the team of MFDP, CSA and NIR has been engaged in developing policies and procedures that would guide all of us,” she emphasized.
She acknowledged that the process may seem rocky right now but assured participants of the workshop that the process is in the best interest of the country.
Brunson added that at the end of the exercise, the government and the citizens at large will reap the benefits that will allow fiscal space and enable merit-based adjustments to qualified individuals.
For his part, the Director General of the Civil Service Agency, Jimmy Thompson, indicated that he blames the wage bill for the challenges associated with salary payment.
The CSA boss argued that whenever technicians at various spending entities across the government disregard the legal process of employment, the wage bill will continue to swell.
He maintained that as long as the Government continues to hire and pay salaries, it is contributing to the padding of payroll.
Thompson disclosed that during the harmonization process, the team realized that the wage bill back in 2006 was meager but narrated that such wage bill grew to the amount to US$300 million.
He pinpointed that the challenge associated with the wage bill growth is that it was taking away the aspect of social services to the general public, most especially those not in the employ of government.
“It was like the Government was working for itself. The people who work for the Government took all the money the government generated to pay themselves and the ordinary people got nothing,” the CSA boss said.
He expressed excitement in the fact that the government is actively supporting the Payroll Taskforce as a means of continuously cleaning the payroll.
Also, the Executive Director of Liberia Microeconomic Policy Analysis Center (LIMPAC) at the MFDP, Del-Francis Wreh said the workshop will be a routine process for human resource managers, and comptrollers, among others, of all spending entities of the government in order to provide education on how to make adjustments to the payroll, process payroll and also to get education on lot of issues about the payroll.
He mentioned that the workshop will focus on some of the rudimentary issues surrounding the payroll, citing that the workshop will subsequently address some of the frequently asked questions by Comptrollers, Human Resource Managers amongst others, regarding the payroll.
“Today’s workshop will focus on some of the rudimentary issues surrounding the payroll. Some of the questions asked that have been asked on the telephone, some of the misunderstandings about the payroll process and some of the techniques needed to make the payroll clean,” Wreh stated.
He vowed that the team will fight to ensure that the payroll remains equitable and also ensure that the government gets value for money by employing the right kind of people when needed.