The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia- CENTAL says, it is deeply concerned about the President’s limited commitment and attention to the fight against Corruption, which is an even bigger and greater issue that has implications for achieving success at all levels and in all sectors and institutions in Liberia.
“So far, commitment to the fight against corruption by the President has been/is limited, thus leading to the Country’s poor performance on key governance indicators, especially the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International.
CPI rates Countries according to how Clean or Corrupt their public sectors are. Since 2018, Liberia has declined by four (4) points from a score of 32 to 28, an indication of less attention to anti-corruption and integrity-building efforts by the Government.
This is corroborated by CENTAL’s State of Corruption Report published recently, in which 9 out of every 10 Liberians surveyed said Corruption is a major issue in Liberia”, CENTAL said in a release.
The release further that while integrity institutions have been maintained, they have not been given the required attention and support to satisfactorily deliver on their mandates and functions.
“There are many indications. Nearly all public integrity institutions are without fully constituted leaderships at the moment.
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, Internal Audit Agency, Financial Intelligence Unit, Governance Commission and other critical governance and anti-corruption bodies do not have the required number of appointed, confirmed, and tenured officials.
This has been lingering for two years and even more for some institutions, especially the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission that leads the Country and Government’s fight against Corruption.
This undermines their mandates, job security, and motivation, thus affecting their productivity levels and performance. Also, public integrity institutions are grossly underfunded, despite playing key roles in giving the Government and Country the required reputation, credibility and systems and controls needed to safeguard public resources and assets as well as mobilize the required domestic and external resources to fund key activities and processes”, the release added.
CENTAL disclosed that for over four years, the Office of the Ombudsman has not been established to oversee the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials, as provided for in the 2014 Code of Conduct for Public Officials.
Additionally, allegations of corruption involving top officials of government have not been given the required attention, one being the head of special projects in the office of the President who was accused of soliciting bribe from an investor, the release noted.
The civil society body said, since an internal investigation was launched, for nearly half-year, there has been no update to the public about the status of such grave matter bordering on the credibility of the President’s office.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, while the President’s quest for infrastructure development is welcoming, equal and perhaps greater attention should be given to the fight against Corruption and efforts to entrench integrity values at all levels of society.
In fact, it is the sincerity, robustness, and impartialness of the fight against Corruption that gives a country the standing, reputation, and credibility needed to win stakeholders’ trust and confidence as well as raise much-needed domestic and external resources to fund infrastructure and other projects critical to meeting the needs of the people.
It is a strong focus on the fight against Corruption and building of a strong deterrent regime that helps government to prevent corruption in procurement (contract award) and implementation processes, thereby ensuring that roads, markets, and other projects executed are of the required quality.
Without a robust and impartial fight against Corruption, the Government won’t succeed in delivering on its promises, especially deliverables and targets contained in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development”
While bills submitted to the Legislature to improve the legal framework for dealing with corruption are welcoming, CENTAL recommends that entities that will preside over enforcement of these laws must be adequately funded, their leaderships fully constituted, and other well-meaning actions are taken if Government’s fight against Corruption must be taken seriously by citizens and development partners.
CENTAL strongly believes that the President and his government will only manifest the professed commitment and will to the fight against corruption by ensuring the following:
Maintaining a conducive environment for anti-corruption and integrity building efforts by government, civil society, media and other players;
Impartially and timely investigating and prosecuting those accused of corruption and leaving out no untouchables;
Taking of administrative actions against those accused of corruption, including but not limited to indefinite suspension and dismissal;
Fully implementing recommendations of audits and other investigative reports;
Timely filling long-standing vacancies at public integrity institutions with individuals with the required credibility and track records of accountability and transparency in their dealings and actions; and
Providing adequate and timely funding to public integrity institutions to deliver on their mandates, the release concluded.