Liberia’s endemic corruption is a specter that haunts the country’s development agenda, and it behooves Liberians to break away from the past characterized by bad economic and political governance, Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr. has said.
Launching the three-year strategic plan, (2014-2017), marking the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day in Monrovia, Ambassador Boakai said the country must refocus its energy and attention on promoting accountability and transparency.
To achieve the desired result would mean sincerely joining the daunting fight against corruption in the Liberian society, he said.
He told officials of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and other officials of government, including representatives from several international organizations, that the administration supports an independent and robust Anti-corruption Commission.
“There will be no effort on the part of our administration to stifle the work of the Commission in going against corruption in the society,” he said.
Among international representatives at the celebration were the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia.
The V.P. said the administration had issued two Executive Orders, No. 38 in 2012 and No. 55 in 2013 to require that members of the Executive Branch declare their assets in support of GoL’s “overall drive to ensure that those coming to public service do so with the highest degree of transparency and accountability.”
“We have worked with members of the Legislature for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act,” Ambassador Boakai said, “and now the National Code of Conduct which was finally passed in June, 2014.”
He said the Liberian government had adopted new regulations as well as strengthened laws and policies to address the increasing occurrence of improprieties in public offices.
To its credit, he said, the administration has declared corruption and all its vices a ‘public enemy No. 1,’ establishing the LACC as a giant and historic step in battling the endemic act of corruption and its vestiges.
V.P. Boakai pointed out that among the indisputable facts of the administration’s commitment has been the adoption of the National Anti-corruption Strategy, (NAS), led by the Governance Commission, (GC), the Public Procurement and Concession Commission, (PPCC), the Liberia Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative, (LEITTI) among others.
He, however, pointed out that despite these remarkable achievements, the fight against corruption in Liberia is still encumbered with numerous challenges which include delays in the prosecution of corruption cases and lack of cooperation on the part of some government institutions to provide relevant documentation that could assist the Commission.
He re-echoed President Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf’s challenge to the LACC, to work harder to improve public confidence in the government through its mandate and promised the government’s full support, since the new LACC Strategic Plan would be financed under the Agenda for Transformation.
Earlier in a statement which was already released to the media a day before the program and published in several newspapers, Cllr. James N. Verdier, Jr., LACC executive chairperson, reviewed the negative global and national impact of corruption on developing and developed nations, including Liberia.
Verdier said while the Government of Liberia and the LACC join the world in the observance of International Anti-Corruption Day, Liberia continues to wrestle with the political desire versus accepting the consequences of a legitimate fight against corruption.
“Liberia continues to struggle with establishing a robust legal framework as opposed to public accommodation of corruption; instead of experiencing massive condemnation of accused persons, Liberia continues to experience vilification of corruption hunters, many times by the very accused persons much to the chagrin and amusement of the public whose rights and access are squandered and denied by these corrupt practices,” he said.
Therefore, he said the Commission cannot effectively fight graft without enabling laws, noting that the Corrupt Offences bill and the Illicit Enrichment bill are still languishing in the Legislature.
“We therefore call on the Legislature to enact enabling laws to provide the legal and appropriate frameworks to undergird and strengthen investigation and prosecution of corrupt conducts,” Verdier said.
Verdier meanwhile called on Liberians to become whistle blowers on corrupt activities around them while at the same time refusing to participate in them to make those wanting to practice corruption afraid, “because by your actions you will increase the capacity to detection or suspect wrongdoing in individual citizens.”
Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh drew applause when he pointed out that corruption has bigger partners, including the media, and promised to support the Commission to ensure the reduction of corruption in the country.