Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 November 2020:
Senior officials of the Sierra Lone government’s Public Sector Reform Unit (PSRU) today held discussions with members of parliament, about the formation of the long-awaited Wages and Compensation Commission promised by president Bio in 2018.
The meeting which was held at the Committee Room One of the Parliament Building in Freetown, was attended by several members of parliament, including the Speaker of Parliament – Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu, the Deputy Speaker, the Leader of Government Business, Leader of the Opposition, Leader of C4C and the Clerk of Parliament.
The Speaker of Parliament told PSRU officials that it is very disheartening for anyone to be receiving less salary than someone with similar qualifications working in a different sector. He called for all workers in the country to be remunerated relative to their qualification and experience.
He also said that he is a member of the Parliamentary Salaries and Pensions Committee, and expressed hope that a successful outcome of the consultative process will end the salaries and wages disparities in the country.
Speaking about the proposed Wages and Compensation Commission (WCC), the Director of PSRU, Georgiana Kamara said the huge disparities in salaries of both public and civil servants, has prompted the Government of Sierra Leone to propose the setting up of the Commission, and to obtain the legal backing aimed at the harmonization of wages and salaries in the country.
PSRU Consultant – Mr. George Smith-Graham, spoke about the importance of the WCC and the several consultative meetings that have taken place on the need to harmonise wages and salaries in Sierra Leone.
He also spoke about the scope, guiding principles, methodology, overview of key issues and concepts, laws and policies on salary administration in Sierra Leone, constitutional provisions, administrative instructions and institutional arrangements for salaries and pensions.
The Clerk of Parliament described the work of the PSRU as “positive work done”, and asked for the WCC framework documents to be presented to MPs for discussion, so it can be put into policy and legislative action.
Everyday Bio’s government is coming up grand ideas, which in the face of it, is fine on print, but shallow in action. Renumeration of public workers has always been a bone of contention. In order to harmonising public service salary structure, we need a holistic approach, a determined leadership and a reform programme that is sustainable to achieve the goals we set ourselves. Public service pay reform is long over due in Sierra leone. At the moment we have three areas of public service that are vital to our country’s development. Each with different salary structures.
You have those workers in the ministries that are only there when a party is in power, and the core civil servants that implement government programmes. And lastly those that work in the regulatory bodies. It is critical that government takes a broader look and approach, on how to harmonise and enhance the pay disparities that exist in the public service sector, and living conditions of core civil servants that have devoted their entire life to public services. It not only help to retain staff, it also motivate them to be more productive, and lift morale which is badly needed in Bio’s Sierra Leone. Amongst public sector workers, despondency and giving up hope is the name of the game in town. These reforms are badly needed, if we want to move our country forward.
At the moment, those that work in the regulatory bodies are seen as the ones that generate income for the government, and are given enough latitude to do as they wish or in other words encourage corruption, or top up their income thereby avoiding any scrutiny. Public workers that found themselves outside this bubble are left hanging to dry. Until government tackle what can only be determined as poverty pay, there is no way they can fight corruption in Sierra leone. Government needs to think outside the box and come up with ways to make work pay, and not to be punish for working. And make public servants feel valued for the work they do for the state. So even if you retire from government service, you know the state will look after your back. May God bless Sierra Leone.