A high level assessment roundtable on National Anti-corruption Strategy (NAS) organized by the Governance Commission (GC) has identified the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) as the most corrupt ministry under the Executive Branch of Government.
This conclusion was drawn from discussions and interviews carried out with Liberians in six counties by the DAH Consulting Incorporated.
DAH is a research company hired to conduct the study that brought out the findings on the MFDP and other government entities.
In a presentation at the roundtable assessment yesterday May 27 at a resort in Monrovia, Dr. Alpha Simpson of DAH informed participants that his team visited Montserrado, Bomi, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Bong and Nimba and solicited views from citizens.
He said from the views of people interviewed including businesspeople and others who are one way or the other obligated to MFDP, 43 percent indicated that various illegal transactions take place in the ministry in the form of bribery and other dishonest acts.
Next to the MFDP in corruption according to the assessment is the Ministry of Justice which scored 20 percent.
Among other branches of government the Judiciary came first in corruption characterized by bribes followed by the National Legislature tainted by widespread allegations of receiving “brown envelopes” to compromise concession agreements.
Views gathered during the assessment also indicated that greed and lack of punishment are responsible for people unrestrainedly engaging in corruption.
African Development Bank Representative to Liberia, Dr. Margaret Kilo was quick to remind the gathering that Ministry of Education should be, if not the first, the second most corrupt institution in Liberia.
African Development Bank is the sponsor of the Governance Commission National Anti-corruption Strategy project.
According to Dr. Kilo, Ministry of Education lacks qualified and competent teachers, and those sent to the classrooms are engaged in receiving bribes from students and cheating others.
Dr. Kilo in an assertive and frank tone noted that Liberians do not even consider the practice of corruption to be a shameful act, but sleeplessly sit during night hours to devise strategies to cover up their actions.
She said it is too early for a young person to develop stroke or high blood pressure at the age of 40, but because many young people are engaged in corruption that causes their consciences not to give them ease, they develop such sickness at an early age.
Identifying ways forward, Dr. Simpson said developing institutions to investigate, prosecute, sanction and recover proceeds of corruption would help to curtail the endemic act in Liberia.
He also underscored the need to establish a corruption court, develop the human capacity of the Justice Ministry to perform investigations and prosecute wrong doers. He further called for the strengthening of integrity institutions including the Liberia Ant-Corruption Commission and the General Auditing Commission to effectively achieve their mandates.
The way forward, advised Dr. Simpson, includes access to critical corruption transaction points, information development and the development of a whistle blower website as other means to overcome corruption.
Reacting to the assessment, Deputy Minister for Administration at the Justice Ministry, Cllr. Wheatonia Dickson-Barnes stressed that capacity building for workers at the ministry was essential in the fight against corruption.
She also indicated that collaboration in the fight was necessary since one branch of government cannot do without the others, citing delay or failure to amend the LACC Act to have prosecutorial power as an example.
She disclosed that a new legislation that seeks to establish a corruption court has been drafted.
In response to the assessment, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman, James Verdier commended the team and said Liberia should not fall prey to corruption; instead Liberians should do something to curtail the act.
He said emphasizing public perceptions about corruption is not enough, but taking tangible steps in the forms of prosecution, punishment if found guilty, and bringing to book those caught in corruption will serve as deterrents.
The roundtable assessment on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy was presided over by Vice President and recently petitioned Presidential candidate, Joseph N. Boakai.
VP Boakai in his statement said that the perception is established that anyone coming into government service has the mindset of corruption, which he dispelled. There are many people seeking government positions with good intentions, but become faced with what he called “unforeseen consequences.”
He said good people in government at times take the blame for what they do not know about but because they are there, they must take the blame for the wrong doings of others.
The VP said he was pleased with the roundtable discussions and commended the Governance Commission for providing him the opportunity to participate.
In his remarks earlier, Governance Commission Chairman, Dr. Amos Sawyer, stressed that integrity building was key to development in Liberia, noting that because of lack of integrity the country loses more, resulting in underdevelopment.