By Festus Poquie
Former Finance Minister Amara Konneh is talking the incoming Joseph Boakai administration into overhauling the country’s workforce in a way that will reduce government’s entities and cut jobs.
He calls it rationalization of the workforce. This could see hundreds of thousands of public sectors employees’ layoff.
Konneh, elected to the Senate this year pursued the massive layoff policy when he served the Johnson-Sirleaf administration as Finance Minister between 2012 – 2017.
In 2019, the International Monetary Fund said the country’s wage bill was lacking transparency and credibility. Key policy reform was needed to free up fiscal space, the Fund said.
The outgoing Weah administration implemented a payroll harmonization policy – a process through which salary of employees with the same position are fully or partially matched to minimize salary disparity.
Harmonization reduce the government wage bill from US$322 million at end of FY18/19 to US$297 million for FY19/20, according to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
Konneh does not want the Boakai administration to cut salary, He wants people layoff as he did a decade ago.
“The new UP government can do it again. They can do it even better. But, make no mistake: it will take time, it will be expensive, and people you like and depend on may be affected,” he said in a Facebook post.
“When I was Finance Minister, one of the first things we did was cut ghosts from the payroll. One of the last things we also did was rationalize the public sector, using the Finance and Planning Ministries as a pilot.
“We merged the two and took out the revenue function. We reframed the structure, based on our actual needs, then did internal and external recruitment to fill the new roles.
“In the end, MOF went from 3,000 staff to about 700. We channeled savings from the payroll toward public investment.”