The three-week ultimatum of for officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to open Liberian dollar bank accounts in order to receive their salary arrears has sparked anxiety among lawmakers on Capitol Hill since the mandate was issued, in the wake of the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In yesterday’s session of the House of Representatives, the lawmakers mandated the House’s Committee on National Security to investigate the ‘LNP pay crisis,’ and report in two weeks – a week before the Police’s ultimatum elapses.
The investigation of the ‘New Police Ultimatum’ to have an individual Liberian dollar account in three weeks was due to a complaint from Montserrado County District # 9 Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood.
The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) lawmaker said the LNP administration, through an internal memo, has threatened all officers in the 15 counties that if individual accounts were not opened in three weeks, said officers should not blame the Police for not getting their pay.
“But what seems to be troubling in this situation is how many of the police officers in rural parts of the country have access to banks? Will they leave their posts of duty to go to other locations to open bank accounts? And if they do not meet the deadline, what happens to their money they have already worked for?” Rep. Youngblood asked in her letter to plenary.
“So in view of the following, my distinguished colleagues, I write to seek the support from plenary to mandate the relevant committees to probe into these issues surrounding our LNP,” she added.
Youngblood further told her colleagues that the Police memo also said that 50 percent of their salaries owed will be paid in US dollars, while the other 50 percent will be in Liberian dollars.
For over seven years, civil and public servants have been paid via direct-deposit to their respective bank accounts to improve government’s efforts at transparency, accountability and fairness, and tackle corruption.
The LNP was one of the security outfits whose officers were paid in US dollars; but with the announcement by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to pay 30 percent allowances in Liberian dollars owing to economic constraints, the Police was given a consideration of 50 percent in US dollars and 50 percent in local currency.
However, with the consideration made since May, the LNP have not received their salary, and it is still causing an increasingly alarming threat to security as reports of criminal activities are now on the rise.