Claim: The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) claimed that “President George Weah increased the army’s budget by US$4 million in FY 2022.”
Verdict: Misleading! The FY 2022 national budget shows that the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)’s budget was increased by US$2,881,211m.
The Armed Forces of Liberia has historically been to defend and guard the Country’s borders, safeguard national security, and protect the population from external aggression.
It became the Armed Forces of Liberia in 1970 from the Liberian National Guard.
On January 13, 2023, the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) took to its official Facebook page to highlight the numerous achievements President George Weah made during five years. It was cited that “President George Weah increased the army budget by US$4 million in FY 2022.”
Ministry of Information Cultural (MICAT)’s post about the AFL first under section 11, themed: “PUBLIC SAFETY & NATIONAL SECURITY,” attracted 172 reactions, 166 comments and 117 as of March 1, 2023, with commenters having mixed views about the post.
But did it mean that MICAT’s post about the army’s budgetary increment was also a great booster to the AFL operations?
DUBAWA verified facts surrounding the ministry’s claim and further ascertained what the increment meant for the military.
The fiscal year (FY) 2022 of the Armed Forces of Liberia (ALF) was examined by DUBAWA, and it revealed that the AFL, which is a department under the direction and supervision of the Ministry of National Defense, was budgetarily allocated US$16,361,844m of the US$18,695,921m the Defense Ministry received that year.
To verify the actual figure of the army’s budget was increased in FY 2022, DUBAWA checked the FY 2020-2021, and it shows that the AFL got US$13,480,633m of the US$14,412,445 the Ministry of National Defense received.
Also, in 2021, a “Special National Budget, Fiscal Year 2021” was passed, and on that budget, the AFL received US$2,464,633m of the US$7,853,070m that was given to the Defense Ministry.
In 2022, the ALF was allocated US$16,361,844m of the US$18,695,921m the Defense Ministry received.
This researcher then visited the legislative budget office (LBO), a technical arm of the legislature that provides an objective, impartial, and professional analysis of the national budget, to establish if the 2021 Special Budget is also a part of the 2020-2021 FY, and they clarified that “the Special National Budget, Fiscal Year 2021, which ran from July 2021 to December 2021, was a budget year all by itself and cannot be combined with any other budget year.”
The AFL’s FY 2020-2021 budget was then subtracted from the FY 2022 budget, and the math resulted in a US$2,881,211m increment, contrary to MICAT’s claim that the army’s budget was increased by $4 million in FY 2022.
This researcher reached out to the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Liberia (AFL), Major General Prince Johnson, to have him speak to MICAT’s claim and the content of the budget. Still, Gen Johnson stated, “When we say our budget was increased by $4 million in FY 2022, we meant the Ministry of National Defense, which includes: Central Administration, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Liberia Coast Guard; not specifically the AFL.”
Subtracting the Ministry of National Defense FY 2020-2021 from their FY 2022 showed that FY 2022 increased by US$4,283,476m.
But what did the increase mean for the ALF?
The Chief of Staff explained that “the increment of the army’s FY 2022 budget boosted the operations of the ALF through recruitment of more AFL personnel, promotions of the institution, and renovations of our barracks.”
The FY 2022 budget reveals that the Ministry of National Defense budget was increased by US$ 4 million and not the AFL. Therefore, MICAT’s claim that “President George Weah increased the army’s budget by US$4 million in FY 2022” is misleading.
”The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship in partnership with The Stage Media – Liberia, to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.