The issue of ‘preference treatment’ within Liberia’s security sector may be a factor responsible for the lack of harmony among the various security agencies. From all indications, there are compensation disparities, while budget compromises continue to hamper the operations of most security agencies.
Interestingly in all of these, monthly compensations and other benefits for most of the security men and women in the field are far below the range of those of other security apparatus. As a result of the foregoing, the security of the nation and its people are most often compromised at border posts, internal checkpoints, as well as in dealing with various crimes during security operations, while revenue generation seems not to be improving, resulting to budget shortfalls every fiscal year since 2012.
At a recent symposium at the Monrovia City Hall, organized by the Ministry of National Defense in commemoration of this year’s Armed Forces, Police Director Chris Massaquoi elected to go public on the huge disparities in compensation within the country’s security sector, emphasizing the urgent need for equality, especially as the United Nations Mission in Liberia completes its draw-down.
According to Director Massaquoi, the Liberia National Police submitted a budget of US$44m to cover its operations across the entire country, but was reduced drastically to US$13m. “ It is hard to talk, but sometimes it is good to say it for people to understand. Out of the US$13m, we have US$12m for personnel services, and we have US$!m left for operations for entire police force- this is peanuts; and lets us get serious. If you want a professional police force, you got to pay the price for it – the police is a very expensive enterprise,” said the Director of Police.
As indicated, police operations in any nation the world-over is an expensive venture, and so, to treat the Liberia National Police – solely responsible to protect lives and property within the country’s borders, as a ‘step child’ with such tedious national task, weakens its capacity to pursue its mandate.
Perhaps, this is one of the major reasons why the LNP is faced with volumes of challenges, including extortion and criminal fascination. Sadly, perception on the part of those who formulate the national budget may be a factor responsible for some of these drastic budget-cuts such as the LNP’s. But the budget team and the committees on budget at the Legislature must understand that Liberia’s survival is tied to security and not what they maintain or add on to their own allotments in the national budget.
To have even cut the allotment of the police from US$44m to US$13m was very unthinkable and unpatriotic, owing to the fact that the foremost priority of the Government of Liberia is the security of the state.
It is an appreciable fact that at least the people of Liberia are in the know of the drastic cut in the annual allotment of the police so that the hierarchy of the LNP will not always be blamed for the huge challenges and shortcomings with which it is currently confronted.
It should always be incumbent on the LNP leadership to bring to public glare such situations, which negatively impact the socio-economic lives of Liberians. We also challenge the budget team led by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and Legislative Committees on the budget to ensure the necessary financial decisions that would positively impact the lives of Liberians.