By Evelyn Kpadeh Seagbeh
MONROVIA, Liberia (AA) - In his first state of the union speech, Liberia’s newly inaugurated president Monday announced he was cutting his salary and benefits as part of his campaign promise to narrow the huge disparities in public servants’ salaries in the impoverished country.
Addressing the national legislature in the capital Monrovia, George Weah called on other officials to do the same, saying they were elected by the Liberian people to serve them.
“In view of the very rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, I am informing you that with immediate effect, I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25 percent and give the proceeds back to the consolidated fund,” said the former football star.
“I will urge you ladies and gentlemen to follow my lead, let us all remember were elected to serve the Liberian people and let us practice servant leadership,” he said.
Weah described the state of the country’s economy his government inherited as “broke,” with the local currency losing its value and unprecedented unemployment across the country.
Over the last decade Liberia’s public sector has attracted many job-seekers due to the high salaries and benefits government officials earn while over 60 percent of the population still lives below $1 a day.