LIBERIA: Senator Dillon’s Disclosure Of US$15K As Monthly Incentive For Senators Anger Colleagues

Senator Abraham Darius Dillon

Some members of the Liberian Senate have begun murmuring over yesterday’s (September 24, 2019) disclosure by their colleague, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon regarding their monthly incentive which has been summed up to Eighteen Thousand United States Dollars, noting that his disclosure to the public would bring them to opprobrium from Liberians, many of whom who are drowning in abject poverty.

“What Senator Dillon hope to achieve in his press conference, by exposing the Liberian lawmakers, we pray that he will continue his press conferences by bringing us to public disgrace,” one of the speaking to reporters immediately after Senator Dillon’s news conference in a rather disappointing mood said.

During his well-attended press conference yesterday, Senator Dillon responding to his campaign promises made to cut his salary into half to be given to the 17 electoral districts in Montserrado County, exposed his fellow lawmakers who have over the years received huge salaries including other incentives and careless to response to the cry of Liberians who are finding it difficult to life better for them economically.

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 on 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.”

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 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.”

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About Cholo Brooks 13507 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.