Several civil society organizations (CSOs) in Liberia are calling on the government to make a timely report to the public of all resources galvanized and spent toward the COVID-19 fight in order to enhance accountability and transparency.
The CSOs which include the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-Liberia), Accountability Lab Liberia and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) made the request during at a recent press conference in Monrovia.
Presenting the statement on behalf of the various CSOs, CENTAL’s Executive Director, Anderson Miamen, said the COVID-19 resources must be effectively managed and accounted for the betterment of the Liberian public.
Mr. Miamen said the mechanisms for allocating and utilizing the proposed $25 million and other resources must be transparent to ensure accountability at all levels.
“We are even more concerned about accountability of the diverse resources donated by foreign governments and partners toward the fight against COVID-19. We do not want a repeat of the abuse of resources as it was during the fight against Ebola in 2014. Moreover, Liberians do not want the repeat of mismanagement of the $25 million mop up exercise, which is yet to be properly accounted for,” Mr. Miamen said.
He expressed disappointed that the authorities of the government responsible for COVID-19 fund are yet to regularly update the public about the total pledges and actual monies and other resources received so far.
“The government should not lose track of its accountability and responsibility to the public to ensure that the resources received are judiciously allocated and expended. We are even more concerned now as some unscrupulous individuals are noted for using emergencies to siphon public resources at the detriment of those they profess to be serving,” he said.
On the issue of police brutality that some citizens had retaliated in recent days, Miamen said “The rights of citizens are fully respected and protected during the fight against COVID-19. Widespread brutality against citizens, especially women, must stop. We call on Government to investigate and prosecute all security officers brutalizing citizens during this period.”
He said there is a need for civil society organizations to be accorded the full respect and given the space to operate.
“The Leaderships and essential staffs of CSOs must be equally allowed to work as they play vital roles in creating awareness, proving valuable inputs to government as well as independently monitoring and reporting on key trends and decision-making processes around the fight,” Mr. Miamen said.
Mr. Miamen reiterated calls for all Liberians and residents to fully respect instructions from authorities to protect themselves and others during this period.
“We must all observe the social distancing rules and avoid action (s) that undermine the fight against COVID-19, which cannot be won without collaborative and well-coordinated efforts of all concerned: Government, partners, citizens, civil society and media and other groups in society,” Miamen added.
He applauded the National Public Institute of Liberia, Ministry of Health and the many health workers who have committed themselves to saving lives and returning Liberia to normalcy, while noting that COVID-19 has stalled economic, social, political, and other productive activities in Liberia and needs urgent attention to eradicate the pandemic.