The joint Legislative Budget Committee has quizzed Police Chief Chris Massaquoi concerning what happened to the "increment" made in the salary of officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in the last national budget.
The committee said the salary of police officers were increased from US$104 to US$154 in the last national budget, but the police authorities "diverted" it to unspecified projects. The committee quizzed Police Chief Massaquoi on Thursday, August 9, 2012 when he and his Deputy Rose Stryker appeared before the committee to justify the Police 2012/ 2013 budget.
As part of the inquiry, the committee requested the police chief to provide a detailed report as to how monies meant to increase salary of police officers were allegedly diverted and requested him to submit the report to it(committee).
"This is unacceptable, you cannot come here to request for money for our people and cannot tell us how you use it for," Budget Committee Co-Chairman Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County said. According o him, it is unacceptable to continuously under pay the trained police officers "standing under the sun and rain day and night."
Rep. Nuquay alleged that US$10 was cut from every police office's pay without justifiable reason. But he did say who cut the money. Responding to the inquiry of the committee, Police Chief Massaquoi said he has no idea where the money in question was used for. He denied expending money allotted for his staff for any personal enrichment.
"The money was approved but we did not receive it," he said. The former head of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization(BIN), who took over from former Police Chief Marc Amblard in the middle of last budget year, vowed to work with the joint Committee in tracking what went wrong with the police salary allotment.
At the same time, the new police chief has called on the committee to approve his 2012/213 budget of over U$9 million. If approved, he assured that the least police officer would make US$154 in salary.
The new police chief, who defended the police budget before the joint committee on Ways, Means and Finance of the Legislature, pointed out that despite its commitment to protecting lives and properties, the force needs the necessary logistics in order to carry out the task.
He called on the committee to augment the police budget that will enable the police to buy vehicles, uniforms, construct barracks, depots as well as communication equipment to render the force vigilant. He indicated that the materials will cover the 54 districts in the country.
Meanwhile, the public at the hearing expressed support for an increase in budgetary allotment for the national force to be able to combat crimes throughout the country as the UN troops face out. As the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) continues its gradual withdrawal, it is apparent that the LNP will take charge of security in the country.
This will require appropriate budgetary allotment for the LNP to make it effective and efficient.