— Should they be made public? CSOs think so
President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has declared his assets to the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC), a move that fulfills a major requirement of the Code of Conduct for public officials. It also highlights the commitment and transparency of the Liberian leader and sets an example for government officials to follow suit.
Asset declaration plays a vital role in promoting political accountability and transparency by ensuring that public officials disclose their financial and other real property holdings and properties to prevent conflicts of interest and illegal accumulation of wealth.
Minutes after declaring his assets, Boakai stressed the importance of upholding the principles of honesty and independence within both the institution and his government.
“Transparency is the cornerstone of good governance. As leaders, it is our duty to lead by example and demonstrate our unwavering commitment to accountability,” Boakai stated.
Boakai further rallied calls for all government officials to follow suit and adhere to the highest ethical standards, stating, “We must hold ourselves accountable to the people we serve.”
Prior to Boakai’s declaration, several other officials from the Legislative branch of the Liberian government, including Senate Pro-Tempore Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and Senators Abraham Darius Dillon and Jonathan Boye-Charles Sogbie, had already declared their assets.
Civil society organizations, including CENTAL, Integrity Watch Liberia, and IREDD, had called for Boakai to disclose his assets publicly, emphasizing the importance of transparency in good governance.
However, many believe that Boakai’s decision to make his assets public not only demonstrates his commitment to fighting corruption but also demonstrates his leadership to ensure integrity in his administration.
The assets were received by Patricia Barnaby, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Asset Declaration & Verification Officer, in the presence of LACC officials, including Vice Chairperson Ernest Hughes and Commissioner for Monitoring and Investigations Samuel Dakana.
Asset declaration is a legal requirement under the 2014 Code of Conduct Law, which mandates public officials to declare their income, assets, and liabilities before assuming office, at specified intervals, and upon certain circumstances.
The law states that: “Every public official and employee of the government shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall, in addition, declare his or her income, assets, and liabilities before taking office and after that and, at the end of every three years, on promotion or progression from one level to another, upon transfer to another public office, and upon retirement or resignation.