‘Lawmakers, Gov’t Officials Rated Most Corrupt Institutions’

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CENTAL Executive Director Anderson Miamen calls on gov’t to deliver on its anti-corruption commitments.

-Transparency Int’l Global Corruption Barometer 2019 Report

The Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer 2019 report has named police, government officials and lawmakers as the most rated corrupt institutions in Liberia. The group also recorded that corruption is on the rise in Africa to the extent that governments have failed to stop the widespread corruption.

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), the national chapter of Transparency International, who released the report on Thursday, July 10, 2019 in Monrovia, said the survey was conducted between September 2016, and September 2018.

CENTAL executive director, Anderson Miamen, said the result shows more than half of all citizens (55%) thinking that corruption is getting worse in their respective countries and their governments are doing a bad job at tackling the corruption menace.

Meanwhile, 23 percent thinks corruption is on the decrease and 16% believe it remains the same. People living in D.R. Congo (85%), Sudan (82%) and Gabon (80%) were the most likely to say that they think corruption has risen in the 12 months prior to the survey compared to Tanzania (10%), Burkina Faso (28%), and Ghana (33%) respectively.

Miamen said the percentage of people who claimed that corruption has increased in Liberia stands at 47% as compared to Sierra Leone (43%), and Guinea (62%) respectively.

In Liberia, he said 1,200 respondents were targeted between June 2016, and July 2018, and of the respondents, many Liberians perceive their public institutions as being “highly corrupt” with the police, legislature and businesses, again topping the list of the “most corrupt public individuals and institutions.”

Mr. Miamen said majority (nearly 60%) of Liberians surveyed believe that their government is performing badly in fighting against corruption.

Additionally, he said 43 percent of public service users said they have paid bribe in the last 12 months and that the poor are more likely to pay bribes (36% compared to 25% among the well-offs), often against their will, than the better-offs in society.

“Also, many Liberians (less than 33%) believe reported cases of corruption will not be acted upon by authorities, despite a lot more (52%) indicating that citizens have critical roles in dealing with the vice in the country.”

Miamen said 22 out of the 35 countries surveyed, a large majority of people stated that their governments are performing poorly in the fight against corruption.

“Across the region, majority of the people (59%) think their governments are doing a poor job at handling corruption, compared to 64% in the immediate past survey;” he said.

Mr. Miamen continued: “Only a third of people (34%) think that their governments are doing either fairly or very well at fighting against corruption. However, in some countries, this is far more pronounced. 87% of citizens in Gabon think their government is failing to fight corruption, followed by Madagascar (83%) and Sudan (81%.)

He said Liberia is among the least performers in this regard, as more than half of citizens surveyed (nearly 60%) indicated their government is doing badly in dealing with corruption.”

The GCB is a highly-rated report produced by Transparency International, which samples worldwide public opinions on Corruption.

In this year’s Africa Report, part of the Global Corruption Barometer, Transparency International partnered with Afro-barometer and Omega Research, which spoke to 47,105 respondents across 35 countries in Africa on their perceptions about corruption and direct experiences with bribery.

Mr. Miamen said by contrast, 66 percent of citizens in Sierra Leone think their government is doing well, while 61 percent of citizens in Lesotho and nearly 60% in Ghana think the same.

He said citizens in these countries were some of the most positive in the region about their governments when discussing corruption.

“Regarding the effects of corruption on citizens and their experiences, the results show that of those who had contact with key sectors such as education and health, more than one in four people (28 percent) paid a bribe in the previous 12 months for basic services,” Mr. Miamen said.

According to him, this equates to approximately 130 million people across the 35 countries surveyed that paid a bribe in the preceding year. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the highest overall bribery rate (80 percent), followed by Liberia (53 percent), Sierra Leone (52 percent), Cameroon (48 percent) and Uganda (46 percent).

He said Mauritius maintains the lowest overall bribery rate (5 per cent), followed by Botswana (7 percent), Cape Verde (8 percent), Namibia (11 percent) and Lesotho (14 percent).

“The poor are more vulnerable to corruption, as they were more likely to pay bribe for basic services (36%) compared to their well-off counterparts (25%),” Mr. Miamen said.

The report said more men who accessed services reportedly paid bribe (32%) compared to their female counterparts (25%), perhaps highlighting the patriarchal culture in Africa whereby men control and manage family finances and may pay bribe for their families to access basic services.

Accordingly, 68% of respondents fear retaliation and inaction. However, citizens are hopeful about progress and reform. Fifty three (53) percent of citizens believe ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against Corruption, while 39% think otherwise.

Despite appreciable legal frameworks (laws, policies and institutions) to fight against corruption in the country and the fact that public debates/discussions on the subject (corruption) have increased over the last few years, efforts to address impunity by timely and impartially prosecuting alleged corrupt individuals remain limited and very disappointing.

He said while passage of laws and the existence of anti-corruption and integrity institutions are pivotal and welcoming, it must be noted that the rigorous application of these laws is equally important.

Government’s indifference to effectively applying anti-corruption legislations is allowing unscrupulous individuals to feast on public resources without fear of prosecution, something that is leading to increase in perceived and reported incidences of corruption as well as negative public perceptions about government’s commitment to robustly and impartially tackle the menace.

Miamen further recommended that the Liberian Government takes steps to deliver on its anti-corruption commitments by scrupulously and impartially implementing existing anti-corruption laws and policies, including the African Union Convention to Prevent and Combat Corruption.

“The culture of impunity, which has seen many alleged corrupt persons go unpunished, must stop if government wishes to make concrete gains in winning the war against corruption in Liberia. Among other things, the Code of Conduct and assets declaration requirements must be fully implemented and respected by all concerned parties, including the executive, legislature and judiciary,” CENTAL recommended.

The entity further recommended that government matches its professed commitment to fight against corruption with concrete actions and deeds.

“Support to the LACC, GAC, PPCC and other integrity institutions must be increased and their reports given due consideration as important steps in efforts to concretely tackle corruption. Also, the Whistle Blower Protection Bill must be passed, Specialized/Fast Track Anti-Corruption Court timely established and other well-meaning efforts taken to create the necessary enabling environment and incentives for successful fight against graft in the country,” Mr. Miamen said.

He said the perceived increasing waves of corruption among the Police, government officials, legislature and other institutions show that ongoing reform efforts are slow, inadequate, ineffective and need drastic improvements, especially a strong prosecution regime.

“Businesses and Companies need to be transparent in their dealings, as corruption often thrives in a culture of secrecy and an environment where there is a giver and receiver. Concrete efforts and reforms are needed to avert and address rising trends of private sector corruption as the business executives were ranked just below the Police as the second most corrupt individuals/group in the country,” Miamen recommended in the report.

He added that citizens, civil society, the media and other stakeholders like religious leaders must stand up and constructively engage government to promote and entrench the culture of transparency and accountability in society, especially in public service.

Mr. Miamen maintained that public debates on corruption must be sustained and anti-corruption efforts consolidated to reduce the incidences of corruption in the country.

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