In US$4,447.71 Saga: ‘Stay Order’ Placed On Ministry Of Finance By: Yassah J Wright

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Liberia’s Supreme Court  through its Chamber Justice, Yussif D. Kaba, has placed a stay order on the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, particularly Deputy Minister for Administration, Bill McGill Jones’ 25% salary deduction against Atty. Juvenal C. Pearson. Atty. Pearson is a Director, Physical Audit Unit, and Department of Fiscal Affairs in US$4, 447.71 regarding his participation in the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.  The decision of the Chamber Justice was reached on May 22, 2024, following Deputy Minister for Administration Jones absence to honor a conference schedule by the Justice in chamber, Kaba, which was honored by the Ministry of Justice and the petitioner.  ‘’ By directives of His Honor, Yussif D. Kaba, Associate Justice presiding in chamber, you are hereby cited to a conference with His Honor on Monday, June 3, 2024 at the hours of 11;00 a.m. in connection with the petition for a writ of prohibition filed by Atty. Pearson,’’ the communicated stated.  On May 13, 2024, Minister Jones wrote Atty. Pearson, Director, Physical Audit Unit, Department of Fiscal Affairs, with cc Copy to the Minister of Finance, Boimah Kamara and Director-General, Civil Service Agency Comptroller and Account General, informing them about 25% cut or deduction in the salary of the defendant.

He pointed out that they received the full listing of its employee who participated in the 2023 Presidential and legislative elections without adhering to Chapter 7.2.9 Political Campaign Leave and Chapter 5.10 of the Code of Conduct respectively and received a full salary while contesting or participating in the elections. ‘’ The amount of you received for the period August to October 2023, is four thousand four hundred forty seven United States dollars and seventy-one cents (US$4,447,71). Monthly net salary, US$1,478.57, total amount US$4,447,71, monthly 25% deduction US$370.64, period for deduction, 12 months and remark repayment plan. In view of that, write to inform you that a 25% salary deduction will be applied to your monthly salary beginning May 2024 until April 2025, full payment period,’’ he concluded. The Civil Service Standing Order, Chapter 7.2.9 Political Campaign Leave, provides that a civil servant whom is certificated by the National Elections Commission and is bona fide candidate will be required to take a leave of absence without pay during his/her campaign period, which officially begins with the publication of the official roster of certified candidate by the NEC.  This period of campaigning will end when the election results are published.  Also, Chapter 5.10 of the Code of Conduct states that ‘’ every public official and employee of government shall ensure that his/her participation in political activities does not bring him/her into conflict with official duties. But, Atty. Pearson in his petition for a writ of prohibition dated May 22, 2024 argued that notwithstanding the Administrative Regulation of 2012 as mentioned by the respondent in section 5.10 of the Code of Conduct of 2014, also relied on by the respondent a can’t be used. According to him, he falls in section 1.3.9 Code of Conduct of 2014 as employee of government as Director for Physical Audit, Department of Comptroller and Account General, Ministry of Finance.  However, he said that because the Code of Conduct of 2014, a status supersedes the Civil Service Standing Orders of 2012,, a regulation, the court ,must strike down the Order and sustain the Code of Conduct of 2014 especially when the regulations and status speak to the subject.  ‘’ I participated as a Vice Presidential candidate on the ticket of the Liberia Rebuilding Party in the 2023 presidential and legislative election whereby I ensured that this principal of political activities did not conflict with my official duties as employee of government as evidenced by the official reports from audit conducted during the period of August to October 2023’’ he added. Atty. Pearson argued that notwithstanding the conflict between an administrative regulation, Civil Service Standing Order of 2012 singularly signed by the President and status, The Code of Conduct of 2014 enacted by the legislature, signed by the president and printed into handbill, the status, according to the hierarchy of laws, shall always supersede a regulation. He believes that the Chamber Justice must sustained thereby strike down respondent illegal pursuit to summarily deduct petitioner salary based on Civil Service Standing Order of 2012 in a clear disregard of the implied repeal status controlling Code of Conduct of 2014, Chapter 5.10. ‘’ The petitioner prays this court to issues the Alternative Writ of prohibition against the Ministry of Finance restraining them from further proceeding illegally with strange rule as against the issuance of a citation predicated upon the urgency of this matter and to order the Ministry to show cause why, if any , reasons they have ,that the peremptory writ of prohibition should not lie with cost and expenses in these proceeding, rule against the Ministry and thereby restoring petitioner salary for the months of May 2024 and all further months determined by the respondent Jones herein strike down the Civil Service Standing Orders 2012 and sustain the Code of Conduct of 2014 as an implied repealed of the reference Civil Service Standing Order and sustain the Code of Conduct as an implied’’ he concluded.

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