According to the Bong County lawmaker, the campaign to increase the budgetary allotment for the MOD vis-à-vis the AFL is to ease constraints the soldiers have endured over the years, thus excluding them from undertaking, and or accessing training in specialized areas.
Since the restructuring of the new AFL in 2006, the numerical strength of enlisted men and personnel of the Army has remained constant owing to “inadequate” budgetary allocation at the National Legislature.
Rep. Mulbah made the statement Wednesday, February 26, during program marking the official turn over ceremony of engineering equipment to the AFL. The equipment comprising pieces of earth-moving machines, mixers, excavators, etc were donated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the people of Liberia.
The ceremony, which was held at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) on UN Drive in Monrovia, brought together an array of government and members of the international community.
“If the Government of China had not made it possible for us to get these equipment, we would have been complaining to the Legislature for budgetary allotment for several other things including military hardware in the next fiscal year budget. This year budget will be the budget of the AFL, and this is the time Liberia will take full responsibility of the army,” Rep. Mulbah declared.
Chairman Mulbah, however, promised to work with the AFL stating, “We will campaign in the Legislature for increment of the AFL budget.”
Turning over the keys of equipment to the Acting Chair of the Cabinet, Internal Affairs Minister, Morris Dukuly, Chinese Amb. Zhang Yue said, “In the past decade, China has been active in assisting the Liberian Government and the people in their endeavors to reconstruct their country. We take Liberia’s development a priority, as our assistance is aimed at bringing tangible benefits with the development of bilateral relations, the exchanges and cooperation between the people’s Liberation Army of China and the AFL.”
According to him, ever since 2004, through mutual military exchanges and cooperation, Chinese Ministry of National Defense has provided the Liberian side with nearly US$10 million worth of military assistance and 194 training slots.
“In the coming month, seven AFL officers and soldiers will be going to China to join the new training program.”
He disclosed that China appreciates the achievements made by the Liberian Government to develop national economy, speed up infrastructure construction and bring benefit to ordinary people.
“According to the Protocol Signed between China and Liberia, Chinese government not only has provided the Liberian side with engineering equipment on gratis (free) to the value of US$4M, and also will send an engineering experts team to Liberia to work with the Engineering Company of AFL.”
The team, he said, will arrive in Liberia in early next month.
Ambassador Zhang also noted that it was not only of the hardware, but of the capacity that will enhance AFL to contribute to Liberia’s social and economic recovery; raise AFL’s profile in terms of civil-military relations.
Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly, who received the keys to the equipment on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, expressed gratitude to China for the level of partnership and support giving to the Liberian Government in her post-conflict recovery drive.