In the aftermath of the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), a Daily Observer investigation yesterday established that personnel of the country’s three most important security bodies have not been paid for the past three months.
Our sources at the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) said since the soldiers’ take home pay was 70 percent Liberian dollars and 30 percent in United States dollars, their morale have remained halfhearted (weak).
“Our pay,” the AFL sources said, “has since been delayed by two to three weeks; but for June, we are yet to receive it, because there is no word from the authorities. Our pay can’t delay except for the months of May and June.”
Officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP), especially those assigned with the Police Support Unit (PSU), interviewed for this story complained of salary delays, among other things, for three months from April, saying that they have been working without pay.
“This kind of thing, coupled with logistical constraints, as experienced by the police has left the authorities in a dilemma. It is killing us, thereby giving rise to criminal activities,” one angry LNP officer, who preferred anonymity for fear of being dismissed, remarked.
Contrary to the claim, LNP spokesman Sam Collins told the Daily Observer via mobile phone that there have not been any delays in salary payments to the officers.
According to Collins, the true story is that the government introduced a measure whereby all salaries previously paid in U.S. dollars are now being divided into two currencies; that is, 50 percent will be paid in Liberian dollars, and 50 percent in ‘hard currency.’
He said what has caused the seeming delay in salary disbursements is that, “some of our officers did not have Liberian dollar accounts at the banks, so we have to deposit the 50 percent U.S. dollars into their accounts while we wait for them to open their Liberian dollar accounts in order
for us to deposit the balance of their salaries in Liberian Dollars. As we speak, we are on the verge of issuing the officers checks in Liberian dollars. Collins added that by this July Liberian dollar accounts would have been opened at the bank for each of the officers.
Similarly, the public affairs department of the Ministry of National Defense acknowledged that money for soldiers may be released by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning today, Wednesday.
MOD’s Assistant Minister for Public Affairs, David Dahn, told this newspaper via mobile phone that it was always prudent for journalists to contact authorities at the MFDP concerning the military or any of the security sectors, “rather than blowing up the whole thing to the public.”
As for soldiers’ morale, “Our soldiers are in high gear knowing full well that UNMIL is no longer in charge of the country’s security, but Liberians themselves, with the soldiers being the backbone to take control of our territorial limits, with porous border points,” Minister Dahn asserted.
As for the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), a senior officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, told this newspaper that regarding “salary disparities and delays at the bureau, the Commission has invited all those assigned, but not on payroll, to come down to ‘process their pen.’”
Another source from the Commission added: “As we speak, the Commission has recalled an estimated 500 BIN officers previously assigned in the leeward counties, but who are not on payroll, to Monrovia to run after the process.”
The BIN situation was recently worsened by some aggrieved officers who began calling the various radio phone-in programs using vulgar language against authorities.