The chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veterans Affairs, Lofa County Senator Stephen J. H. Zargo, has disclosed that the budgets of several first line national security institutions have been considerably slashed. Though he did not disclose the proposed budget amount or what it may have been ‘slashed’ down to, the Senate defense chairman has therefore “craved the indulgence of the leadership of the Legislature to reconsider the budgets of these front line institutions.”
In his letter dated June 26 Sen. Zargo said his request is in consideration of the pivotal role these institutions have to play before, during and after the elections, especially the Liberia National Police and Immigration Services.
“This, I believe will enhance their performance, especially during these critical electioneering period, even if this means slashing from other areas for now to have these institutions prepared for the challenges associated with elections security.”
The October 2017 elections, Senator Zargo reminded his colleagues, is a period of heightened security alertness, which takes security experts to the point of making an analysis of Liberia’s security threat, which can be said to be basically internal.
This, he said, is derived from the daily economic hardship exacerbated by unemployment, especially among restive youths.
“A greater percentage of our population lives in abject poverty, while on the other hand former members of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia have threatened to ensure that a peaceful transition of government does not become a reality if what they perceived as severance benefits are not paid,” he said.
Senator Zargo, a one-time policeman, however warned of a looming security threat “If we do not intend to paint a gloomy picture of our national security setting.”
What is expected to avert what the Senate’s security chairman described as “this clear and present danger” is for appropriate steps to be taken to ensure that, even though the targeted manpower strength of the first line national security institutions has not been reached, “we can adequately provide the much needed logistics to the available few,” which would “significantly enhance” their performance, he said.
It is in view of the foregoing that Senator Zargo said he is calling on the leadership of both Houses to ensure that the requisite funding is made available to the security institutions to enable them to function at an enhanced level in delivering services required by the Liberian people during the period leading to, during and after the elections.
The letter was sent to the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance & Budget, which is currently working jointly with the House of Representatives for final appropriations of the 2017/2018 National Budget.
Meanwhile, 22 Senators attended yesterday’s 44th day sitting, while Senators George Weah, Daniel Naatehn, Dallas Gueh and Sando Dazoe Johnson were notably absent.