President Sirleaf Announces at Assets Declaration Training
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called upon the Legislature and the Judiciary to respect the Code of Conduct by requiring all officials of their Branches to issue their Declaration of Assets, declaring, “This is the law”.
“I call on all those concerned to declare their assets to ensure that they are in full compliance by the 28th of July 2017, the deadline established by the LACC,” the President announced.
She was speaking last Friday during the Assets Declaration Training held in Monrovia under the sponsorship of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and its partners, according to an Executive Mansion release.
As we come together today, we reconfirm to our nation and to our development partners, our commitment to comply with this legal provision of the Code of Conduct in the interest of good governance and the fight against corruption,” added President Sirleaf. “Remove the Perception, Declare Your Assets”.
She further called upon Presidential aspirants and Presidential appointees and other public officials, particularly those subject to false and nefarious accusations, to consider public disclosure of their Declaration of Assets and Liabilities.
President Sirleaf said Liberia is not bereft of laws, policies and strategies that meet international standards, noting that the declaration of assets is just one of many. She said the problem is that we give little respect to the enforcement of these laws and the implementation of related policies and programs. “I trust that this sensitizing gathering will result in a change in attitude and action on the part of those responsible to comply with or to enforce Asset Declaration,” President Sirleaf admonished.
She thanked the Commission for organizing the event aimed at bringing attention to a fundamental requirement of accountability in public service. President Sirleaf said although the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities is new to Liberia, she said she was proud that similar to many other financial management instruments, this has been introduced by her Government.
President Sirleaf recalled that in 2012, the Executive Order on Asset Declaration was imposed as a requirement for all officials of the Executive Branch of Government. In June 2014 the Legislature extended this requirement for all three Branches of Government thereby demanding accountability from all those managing or benefiting from public resources.
“It has been three years since members of the LACC were commissioned into office, five years since we issued the Executive Order on Asset Declaration, and three years since the Code of Conduct went into effect,” the President intoned.
President Sirleaf challenged the LACC that more has been and is expected of the entity. “Investigation of Asset Declarations is called for in Section 10.2 of the Code. This could be done a on random basis, focusing particularly on those who have managed or benefited from significant public resource,” she noted.
The President also expressed the need for more guidance on implementation of the Code with emphasis on: “Who are those to declare? To whom should the Declaration be made? Which entities are the rightful custodians of the Declaration? When is the deadline for Declaration? What are the penalties for failure to declare? The Code of Conduct does not respond to these issues so LACC should have assumed this responsibility”.
She intimated that Liberians should be deeply saddened when we read what is said about the integrity of our country but she was quick to add that such statements and reports are based on perceptions fueled by local reporting. However, perceptions unchallenged or unchanged become reality over time, she warned.
“This is why, although not required by the Code of Conduct and with prejudice to laws, which protect the confidentiality of personal financial information, I made the decision to release to the public my Declaration of Assets and Liabilities, adding to that, my Personal Income Tax Returns, a filing done more in respect of personal discipline than requirement by the LRA,” she said confidently.
In separate remarks, House Speaker, J. Emmanuel Nuquay and Senate Pro-Tempore Armah Zulu Jallah pledged to encourage their colleagues in the Legislature as well as staffers to declare their assets to those being trained as workers of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission. They acknowledged that the issue of the assets declaration was not anything strange and added that the passage of the bill was in the best interest of the country and its people.
In her remarks, United States Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder, said the US Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) remains committed to the training of participants in asset declaration. She commended President Sirleaf for leading the way in creating the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission as a means of leading by example in order to bring transparency and accountability into the governance processes of Liberia.
The World Bank-Liberia Country Manager, Larisa Leshehenko said the World Bank welcomes the government’s renewed interest and commitment in pursuing the implementation of the Asset Declaration System training that will equip the relevant staff responsible for its administration.
Earlier, Cllr. James N. Verdier, Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission welcomed stakeholders and participants to the one-day training session.