Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh has disclosed plans by the government of Liberia (GOL) to increase funding for the national security sector in the coming 2014/15 fiscal year. According to Mr. Konneh, the security sector needs strong support to train, acquire logistics and deploy across the country to provide law enforcement for citizens as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown program continues. Speaking at the graduation ceremony of new police recruits at the National Police Training Academy (NPTA) in Paynesville on Saturday, Mr. Konneh declared that by the instruction of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Executive Branch has appropriated over US$94 million to the security sector.
The security sector compromises mainly of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the Liberia National Police (LNP), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), amongst others. In the current 2013/14 fiscal budget, the security sector’s budget envelop is about US$82 million. Konneh told the 288 new LNP recruits that a total of about US$20.5 million will be allocated to the LNP alone.
Currently, the total allocation for the LNP in the 2013/14 fiscal budget is about US$15.2 million. Many police officers complain of low salaries and benefits, but the Finance Minister assured the young graduates that the government is doing everything within its powers to address their concerns.
Mr. Konneh also disclosed plans by the government to beef up the strength of the LNP to approximately 8,000 within the next years to fill the security vacuum being created as a result of UNMIL departure. “We have committed ourselves to doubling the size of the Liberia National Police to 8,000 trained officers deployed throughout this country with the required logistics,” he said.
The Liberian treasury boss noted that in order to achieve this goal, the government has put together an ambitious work program that requires training and deployment of 900 officers yearly, beginning July 2014. UNMIL came to Liberia in 2003, significantly supporting the provision of security throughout the country.
After 11 years of their service in Liberia, UNMIL has begun to pull out their troops from Liberia and has vacated 12 camps in Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Bong, Grand Kru, Nimba, Sinoe and Rivercess counties each.
This big reduction in the presence of UNMIL, Konneh observed, leaves Liberia’s security institutions, specifically the LNP, with the major task of deploying adequate manpower in those areas vacated by UN troops, to provide security for our country.
“But as it is,” he observed “the LNP is constrained in both manpower and logistics, and we must invest in effectively deploying officers to these areas, to minimize any negative impact of the UNMIL drawdown on cross border trade between Liberia and her neighbors (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast), and other law enforcement issues.”
He assured the new LNP recruits that a further testament to the government’s commitment to improve and sustain the quality of LNP’s service to the Liberian people, GOL has opened an escrow account in the amount of US$2 million to fund its program with the LNP.
According to the Minister, funding for the completion of the training of the new recruits dubbed Class-42 and the organization of the program was been sourced from the US$2 million account.
Minister Konneh, however, challenged the graduates to insist on their moral responsibility to change the image of the police by upholding the core principles of honor, integrity, humility, selflessness, fairness, courage and obedience to authority.
“As you operate in adherence to these principles, without even knowing it, you will be building an institution that the public will come to respect,” he said. For his part, Police Director Col. Chris Massaquoi thanked the graduates for mounting the courage to join the force in order to serve their country.
Col. Massaquoi however warned officers of Class-42 to stay away from corruption and protect the image of the police.
“If are caught in corrupt act, you will be prosecuted and if found guilty, you will be dealt with in lines with the law and the police manual,” Col. Massaquoi said in a strong word.
Earlier, UNMIL Police Commissioner Gregory Hinds thanks the GOL for training more strong officers to fill the security vacuum being created as a result of UNMIL drawdown.
Commissioner Hinds challenged the new recruits to serve their country well and not compromise their own integrity.
Earlier, Acting Justice Minister Cllr. Wheatonia Barnes saluted the recruits challenged them to be more professional.