Senator Alphonso Gaye discloses
Senator Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh County has disclosed that complacency in the national government breeds widespread corruption in the country.
Speaking to reporters at the five-day retreat organized by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Secretariat, held at a resort in Ganta, he said all the factors leading to the fight against corruption are enshrined in the Constitution, but the three branches of government are complacent about implementing it.
He explained that all the laws to fight corruption are in the Constitution, but the entire government is yet to fully implement the laws, in terms of prosecuting those who are caught in corruption.
He said the fight against corruption is all about growing integrity in the government and also bringing up people in government who are proud of themselves, for their families and for the society.
Sen. Gaye added that, in order “to effectively fight corruption in the government, we should first of all single out people, who are professional people and prefer to protect their careers as well as their names.
The five-day retreat, which is intended to enhance the capacity of the Public Accounts Committee Members in Legislative Committee Business Procedures and how to examine the statement of accounts of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) for public hearings purposes, brought together representatives of nearly all the country’s integrity institutions, including Public Procurement Concession Commission, the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission, the Governing Commission, the General Auditing Commission, and others.
“If we build the courage that all of these integrity institutions listed above are working toward the laws that created them, and if they are implementing these laws, the running of government will be very easy,” Senator Gaye said.
“If these institutions are functioning perfectly, the image of the government is portrayed to the international community, making it easy for the government to get funding for development from partners,” he said.
“When laws are made, they needs to be enforced to the letter by the three branches of government, especially by the Executive Branch,” he said. “Despite the Legislative Branch being the lawmakers, they also need to exert their efforts, because they have the oversight to continue informing the government wheresoever there is weakness.”
Sen. Gaye in a very loud voice highlighted weaknesses, complacency in the enforcement of Liberia’s anti-corruption laws.
“We the legislators need to exert more efforts aggressively, ensuring that these laws are implemented fully by the institutions involved inform at all times,” he said.
Earlier, Sen. George Tengbeh said the only way forward for the fight against corruption is the establishment of an ‘economic crimes court’ to specifically investigate cases related to corruption.
But, Senator Gaye said, “We already have the ‘criminal courts established to adjudicate and prosecute criminal cases, so creating another court will be another burden on the government. All we need to do is to build the courage and exercise the power that is already within us by virtue of the laws that are already on the books,” he said.
“If you create a new institution and it doesn’t have the budget and the caliber of people needed are not there, it is going to be the same,” he asserted.
In his opening statement, the Executive Director of the PAC Secretariat, Micheal M. Thomas, said the retreat is a normal routine of the Joint Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature, established to review and validate audit reports. The retreat, he said, will look at some of the challenges that the Committee has had over time, which it considers crucial, and discuss them.
He said the retreat will also spotlight some of the County Development Funds, with specific emphasis on the host county, where an audit has already been done.