-Over Lack Of Asset Declaration, Wants Legislature, NOCAL, Others Audited
By Reuben Sei Waylaun
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), an integrity institution working with Transparency International (TI) in more than 28 countries in Africa, has backed calls to audit the Liberian Legislature, the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), and other government agencies across the country.
“We strongly support the auditing of the National Oil Company of Liberia, the Liberian Legislature, and other government agencies. There’s need for those institutions to be audited so that they can regain their integrity, credibility, and the kind of financial support they need,” CENTAL’s Executive Director Anderson D. Miamen told journalists at a press conference in Monrovia.
Miamen particularly frowned at the George Weah led government’s lack of willingness to prosecute alleged corrupt officials, including the GOL’s lack of commitment to ensuring asset declaration and support to integrity institutions in the country.
“We are saddened that despite the signing of international protocols, that it is still not showing interest in supporting the fight against corruption. Except for one government official that I am aware of, government officials, in spite of the LACC (Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission) call for public officials to declare their assets, this is not happening at all. We are also concerned that government is not supporting integrity institutions in the country. All of this is undermining government’s commitment to the fight against corruption,” Miamen explained.
He also linked the country’s messy economic condition on corruption and the government’s unwillingness to prosecute those accused. The expressed lack of enthusiasm by the government to fighting corruption and promote transparency and accountability, according to CENTAL, “undermines GOL’s professed commitment to the adherence to good governance.”
Amongst other things, CENTAL recommended that “the government of Liberia must ensure the scrupulous enforcement of existing global, regional and national laws, policies and frameworks for fighting against corruption, mainly in Liberia; address the issue of impunity through prosecution of alleged corrupt officials of the previous administration as well as those of the current regime; that the government of Liberia should increase its moral and financial support to public integrity instructions; that the GOL ensures full compliance with implementation of policies, regulations and best practices around contracting, beneficial ownership, procurement, assets recovery, etc.; and that civil society, including the media and the general public must be vocal on issues related to corruption, as well as remain constructively engaged and demand transparency and accountability in how the country’s resources are managed.”
The recommendations, when effectuated by the government, CENTAL said they would ensure that the fight against corruption in the country is sustained, and that they would also guarantee the acts of transparency and accountability in the public-sector domain.
Miamen also acknowledged the country has good laws on the books but however said the lack of implementation of those laws, especially, aspects that has to do with impunity and enforcement, were greater threat to fighting corruption, transparency and accountability, also posing serious threat to the country’s infant democracy and national development and renewal process.
“It’s saddened that the President and other officials of government have refused to declare their assets,” Miamen decried. Adding, “As we speak, not a single person has declared his or asset; no single official accused of corruption has been prosecuted; the government’s lack of concrete action is causing serious problem for the fight against corruption, and impunity of those accused of corruption or violating the law.
There’s a need for the government of Liberia to listen and implement these measures so that we can collectively make our country better,” Miamen further expressed.”
CENTAL Executive Director’s comments accompanied activities marking the commemoration of the African anti-Corruption Day (AACD), an event widely celebrated across the African continent in at least 28 countries.
Corruption is one of the vices impeding development in Sub-Saharan Africa with the region perceived as the most corrupt in public sector according to TI’s Corruption Perception Index. More than 20% economies in sub-Saharan Africa falls prey to the act of corruption, frequently contributing to poor governance, abject poverty, poor education and healthcare delivery systems, amongst others.
Analysis/ Solutions to Africa’s Rampart Corruption:
Clearly, there is no contradiction that corruption is an evil worm that has eaten deep into the flesh of many nations of the world. It is a cancer which is intricately woven into the fabrics of the African society as it cuts across political, economic, social, and other spheres of life, affecting the old and young; male and female.
As a matter of fact, it is top labeled as a major reason for the backwardness and under-development of the African continent as it undermines effective governance, and resources meant for national development are often siphoned and embezzled by public officials.
Considering the pace at which corruption flourishes in Africa, analysts, including projectionists, and experts, have postulated that it will be safe to theorize that the menace is attractive and thus, profitable. Corruption has found a fertile soil on which it escalates with little or no hindrance. Simply put, it pays to be corrupt in this part of the world, and that is why many people are queuing into this trend.
Corruption has been defined by the World Bank (1997) world Development Report as “the abuse of public office for private gains. Public office is abused for private gain when an official accepts, solicits, or extorts a bribe. It is also abused when private agents actively offer bribes to circumvent public policies and processes for competitive advantage and profit. Public offices can also be abused for personal benefit even if no bribery occurs through patronage and nepotism, the theft of state assets or the diversion of state revenue.”
In every country where corruption flourishes, these devastating effects abounds: few are unjustly enriched at the expense of the majority thereby giving rise to poverty; respect for rule of law is discarded and political instability is imminent; depletion of national wealth, social inequality which may give rise to unhealthy competition; reduction in the level of productivity and quality of goods and services; reduction in the level of foreign investment, bad international image, among others.
Corruption, in other words, can be eliminated in Africa when it is made unattractive. This can take two broad ways, which include formal and informal.
Formerly, the act can be eradicated when Government through its institutions and agencies is involved in combating the pandemic of corruption, thus making it unattractive. This may take several forms which include: Transparency and accountability, good reward system, international collaboration, cashless economy and political will.
Accountability And Transparency
Most African countries operate a system of government where little emphasis is made on transparency. This explains why a man would be living a modest or average life before assuming political office, but at the time of relinquishing such political office, his standard of living would have drastically accelerated. Government funds are being embezzled by the day and no one truly cares as to how expenditure goes on. Even when it comes to budget allocation, budgets are so vague that it gives room for embezzlement.
Henceforth, when a government is run transparently, and the officials are mandated to account as to how every fund budgeted is received and spent, and there is a body charged with the responsibility of making a fiscal transparency assessment and the results published, then corruption can be made unattractive.
On another note, there is also little emphasis on public office holders to declare their assets, and this gives them the impetus to acquire more wealth through fraudulent means. So, when there is a periodic obligation on their part to declare their assets and that of their immediate families (as some of them acquire wealth in the name of their wives and children), then they will be scared to be corrupt, as it makes them vulnerable to being caught.