CESTOS, River Cess – Civil servants in River Cess are finally receiving their salaries after complaining for three months that they have not received their monthly salaries.
On Monday, December 17, more than 200 civil servants went to receive their salaries for up to the month of November.
Most of the aggrieved civil servants work for the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They had planned to stage a protest in demand of their salaries, but the protest was suspended due to the intervention of Assistant Minister Olayee S. Collins of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Collins accompanied a European Union delegation in the county when the civil servants registered their plight. He asked them to put their protest on hold as he promised to inform the minister of internal affairs.
“I was shocked when I heard that some civil servants here have not been paid for three months,” Collins said in an interview with The Bush Chicken. “However, I’m going to reach this to the minister and we are going to launch an investigation into this to find out where the fault is coming from. Because, as far as I am concerned, [the] government is not owing any civil servant except for the months of November and December.”
Civil servants have blamed the management of the MC2 River Cess Bank for the delay. They claimed that the bank had loaned out their money to businesses to reap profit from the interest the bank would charge.
The spokesperson of the civil servants, Tukan Quay, had told The Bush Chicken that the workers were planning on filing a lawsuit against the bank if they did not get their salaries.
Some civil servants receive their salaries through the MTN Mobile Money system while others receive theirs through the bank. Those receiving their salaries through the Mobile Money system generally get their salaries by the 25th of every month.
Many workers who spoke to The Bush Chicken said they are disappointed with the manner in which their salaries are being handled. Some said they had already credited money from people and are paying interest on that borrowed money because of the failure of the bank to provide their salaries.
“They delay our money for all these months and before we get it, we have eaten all,” said Daniel Druzon, a teacher of the Sayuoh Public School. “Right now, I have credited people’s money and I have to pay with interest. This means we are working for nothing.”
John Tieh, the manager of the River Cess MC2 bank, has called the allegations against the bank “cheap propaganda.”
He explained what he said was the cause of the delay: “The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the printing of payroll and checks. If we don’t have these tools, we cannot make payment. If there is a delay, it’s due to delay from the Central Bank.”
Tieh continued, “Secondly, the people of River Cess not depositing, so, they have to wait for cash to come from Monrovia before we pay,” Tieh said. “We do not have money to pre-finance government’s payroll.”
Tieh said the bank has only four staff “and it is not possible for four staff to credit L$8.2 million [US$51,899].”
There are 12 MC2 banks around the country and they are managed by Afriland Bank. Tieh said the Central Bank had signed an agreement with the banks to deliver cash needed by the banks to stay operational. However, he said the Central Bank has often failed to transport the necessary cash to the counties.
“To transport cash to the county is not our responsibility,” he added. “The Central Bank should be doing that, but as we speak, we take the risk to transport cash.”
The bank manager also attributed the delay in receiving cash to the conditions of the road from River Cess to Buchanan. Between June and December, that road is cut off during the rainy season, making it difficult for commuters traveling along that route.
The civil servants had earlier complained to the office of the county superintendent and county inspector Daniel Tokoe Doe had assured them that the county would have deposited some of its county and social development funds in the bank to allow it to pre-finance the salaries payments. However, at the recently held county sitting, there was no mention of the county making such a deposit.
Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue