Describing corruption as a “serious” problem that all Liberians need to tackle, outgoing United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah R. Malac, has called for the enhancement of prosecution for perpetrators of crimes, corrupt officials and individuals, noting that every Liberian needs to do more to overcome corruption in order to foster development.
Ambassador Malac’s remarks were in regards to a recent publication by Transparency International (TI) about corruption in Liberia and the rest of Africa, based its reports on public perception about corruption, and not on the organization’s own findings.
She noted that the corrupt practice of bribery is not restricted to government, but is also rife in the private sector. The ambassador observed that individuals encourage bribery by giving money to a person discharging a certain duty to allow them be prioritized over others.
Citing the education sector as one as a prime example, she said both students and teachers are complicit in corrupt practices. “On the one hand,” she said, “students buy grades in school while teachers on the other hand request money from students for grades.”
She said that while it is common knowledge that police officers harass drivers for money, she said that drivers also set money aside to bribe police officers to avoid fines.
Ambassador Malac told journalists last Thursday at a press conference that on many occasions, she had tough discussions with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the issue of corruption and the need for private sector investments instead of concession based economic investments, which according to her, cannot trickle down to the general public.
Commenting on the press, Ambassador Malac said that freedom of the press presents a unique opportunity for everyone to freely express themselves in Liberia, and the media can freely report on anything.
She said the media has a cardinal role to play in making Liberia what it should be; and therefore should report facts, be more responsible and not sensationalize issues to confuse the public.
In order to foster the spirit of development, Ambassador Malac said Liberians in the private sector should learn to invest in Liberia. She expressed the need to strengthen institutions that are tasked with the objective of holding people accountable and responsible for their actions.
In closing, Malac expressed her profound sadness over the effects of the Ebola virus disease and the falling prices of iron ore and rubber on the economy, hoping that things will improve well enough to bring Liberia on par with other countries.