It is also time for pay back. The pandemic has caused humane governments to review their relationships with their down-trodden citizens. In this regard some of them have instituted pay cuts while others have forfeited some of their salaries to save others from hardship and starvation. They demonstrate true fellow feeling. They realize that their fortuitous circumstances are not always due to their own efforts but by pre-destination. As a result they send down the life line to their sinking compatriots. “All men are by nature equal, made all of the same earth by the same Creator and however we deceive ourselves, as dear to God is the poor peasant as the mighty prince” -Plato.
The gaps in emoluments of the public service for a government that came to power trumpeting fiscal discipline in contra-distinction from the preceding government is alarming. They have not been seen to be living up to their electoral promises. Their public policy pronouncements have not matched the development reality on the ground.
It will be recalled that a governance transition committee set up on April 6, 2018 just two days after Bio was sworn into office, reported, among other things, that the Koroma administration led Sierra Leone to the brink of economic collapse with a huge external and domestic debt burden driven mostly by an “exploded payroll”- salaries and other compensation for government employees that amounted to the tune of $US263 million or 14.4% of the GDP.
The report also stated that Koroma’s inability to close the fiscal gap and adhere to agreed actions under the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility led to a suspension of both budgetary and balance of payments support to the country by 2017.
Fast forward, President Bio’s bluster to limit government spending and waste as well as graft has not been realized. He has not addressed the “exploded payroll” he reportedly inherited from the Koroma regime.
Civil Servants complain that while political appointees in the service receive huge pay cheques government has repeatedly ignored their calls for a harmonization of public servants’ salaries.
Bio has done nothing to address the scandalous disparities in the national salary structure. Some senior economists receive Le1,420,079 in departments led by political appointees who are being paid anywhere from Le21,478,614 to Le86,935,130 each month.
It is true that governance being a continuous affair, the New Direction government found the inflated salary as it was. But there was nothing to stop the incumbent government from reducing those astronomical salaries in line with the rest of public servants who were carrying similar functions no less.
This is not the best way of rewarding party supporters at the expense of the state. There should be equal pay for equal work and not unequal pay for equal work under the New Direction. In fact, those who have been saying that there is no difference between the SLPP and APC are justified.
Other African countries have already carried out pay cuts because of the pandemic. We are hereby suggesting that all public servants above a certain grade (to be determined) donate 30 percent of their salaries to the pandemic effort until it ends. This matter should not be left to sporadic donations by institutions and individuals.