-Agrees To Finally Pay 31 Aggrieved Workers
By Reuben Sei Waylaun
Authorities at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) have finally succumbed to pay the 31 aggrieved workers their arrears the entity owes for 18 months.
LRA Boss Elfrieda Stewart Tamba
The revenue generating entity once became center of public discussions when authorities reportedly forced some 31 workers into retirement, a decision challenged by the aggrieved workers.
The rigmaroles reportedly lasted for 18 months and the aggrieved workers resisted the decision of the authority on ground that some of them have not reached retirement age and their tenures with the authority hadn’t reached the time of retirement in public service among others.
According to report, the LRA initially rejected the workers’ claims, a decision that prompted the aggrieved workers staging protests, seeking legal means and formal communication to the plenary of the House of Representatives.
The plenary of the House immediately constituted a committee to adjudicate the workers’ concern. The joint committees on claims and petition, labor and judiciary invited all parties for hearing and reported its findings and recommendations to plenary.
In its recommendations, the committee reported that the LRA must pay the 18 months arrears it owes the aggrieved workers and it must restructure the retirement scheme to make the workers happy.
The House’s decision follows a report from the Joint Committee on Claims and Petition, Judiciary and Labor about 31 LRA employees, who were wrongfully retired.
The House of Representatives voted to mandate the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to settle salaries of 31 retired employees for the past 18 months, which totaled US$712,800.
The House also voted that if the LRA cannot pay-off the 31 aggrieved workers due to financial constraints, the management should restore or reinstate them until money is available to pay them off.
“It was observed that LRA Commissioner-General Elfreda Stewart Tamba did not give ears to the aggrieved workers, thereby causing the situation to escalate with missteps in the calculation and no proper communications between the 31 affected workers and the heads of LRA,” Representative Rustonlyn S. Dennis, the Chairperson of the Joint Committee, told the lawmakers following the committee’s report.
Following the report, the House summoned Mrs. Tamba to appear to receive the mandate of plenary concerning the affected employees.
During her appearance on Tuesday May 1, 2018, the LRA’s boss succumbed and agreed to work with the lawmakers in sourcing funding from the government to pay the arrears the LRA owes the aggrieved workers.
According to madam Tamba, the LRA doesn’t have money, but depends on the lawmakers and the Ministry of Finance to source the money to amicably settle the problem.
“We have been willing to settle the workers, but the issue has been funding. Once we receive the funding from government, we will pay the former staffs. We will work with the committee to come with the payment plan,” she said.
She appealed to the lawmakers to help in settling the matter. She however maintained that the LRA didn’t make error with the retirement plan.
After her deliberations, she was advised by the plenary to work with the committees on ways, means, finance and development planning and public accounts in sourcing funding.
It may be recalled that former LRA employees had written the House of Representatives to intervene in their retirement benefits of US$712,800 and their reinstatement, but Commissioner Tamba reportedly refused to abide by decisions calling for the reinstatement of the affected employees, specifically the order from the Supreme Court.
The LRA staffers were dismissed or retired by Mrs. Tamba in September, 2016, having been served letters for eligibility a month earlier.
The LRA has since refused to carry out the retirement process, even though salaries and all related benefits for the 31 employees were captured in the fiscal budget, FY 2016/2017.