Parliament Demands… Disclose All Public Sector Salaries Now

 

Parliament has decided to look into the database of public employees’ salaries in various state institutions “in exercise of its powers in Sub-Section 3 and 6 of Section 93 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.

It could be recalled that on Monday, 5th November, 2018, Parliament through the Office of the Clerk wrote to the Financial Secretary and copied the Minister of Finance stating, amongst other issues, that: “In exercise of its powers in Sub-Section 3 and 6 of Section 93 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra, the Parliamentary Committee on Transparency and Accountability, concerned about implications  of the high public sector wage bill on the country’s economy, has decided to look into the database of public employees’ salaries of various state institutions.”

The letter reportedly stated that the Clerk of Parliament, writing on directives, requested that the Financial Secretary furnished the Committee, not later than Monday 12th November, 2018, 17 copies of a report detailing the wage bill in respect of all Ministers and Deputies, all Directors, Commissioners, the Chief Justice, Judges and Magistrates, Chief Executive Officers, Executive Directors, Executive Chairpersons, General Managers and Permanent Secretaries.

In this vein, a cost-conscious President Julius Maada Bio, who has promised to move the country in a New Direction in his speech at the opening of Parliament in his government’s attempt to rationalize the economy, amongst other things, stated that his government would seek to harmonize the salaries of all public sector workers.

Presenting the 2019 Budget to Parliament on Monday 5th November, 2018, the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa informed lawmakers that over the years, the public service wage bill had increased dramatically to about 55% of domestic revenue, 45% of recurrent expenditure and 7.1% of GDP in 2017, rendering it fiscally unsustainable.

This wage burden, he told Members of Parliament (MPs), is largely due to the increase in the number of subvented agencies whose respective Act empowers them to set payments and benefits without reference to the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) and the Ministry of Finance, thereby causing, amongst other things, disparity in salary levels and inequitable pay relativities.

Minister Saffa noted that a key financial concern is that of disparity in pay and remuneration amongst various public sector categories, in some cases similar posts in the civil service attracting different pay scales and disparity in pay among subvented agencies.

The situation, the Finance Minister said, is compounded by the fact that no single body is charged with the responsibility of developing, coordinating and pursuing reforms that are related to pay and conditions of service of public sector employees. Thus, the Finance Minister proposed to Parliament that the government would set up a Public Sector Wages Commission.