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CENTAL agrees with Amb. McCarthy

By Lewis S. Teh

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) says it welcomes the recent findings of corruption instances released by outgoing United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, upon his completion of tour of several counties in the country.

CENTAL Executive Director, Anderson Miamen, says the Center welcomes Ambassador McCarthy’s observation about the state of decentralization and how the national budget has been manipulated to serve the interests of those who control power.

“Indeed, not only does the Ambassador’s statement reflect courage, it transcends any actual or perceived diplomatic boundaries for the good of the Liberian people”, he said.

Mr. Miamen says CENTAL sees that the disservice meted out against the Liberian people by their own leaders is so great that it cannot be overlooked by international partners, Ambassador McCarthy in this instant case. 

He spoke in a news conference on Thursday, April 26, in Sinkor, Monrovia.

On Monday this week, United States Ambassador McCarthy in a statement released upon completion of his trip to southeastern Liberia wrote, “Unfortunately, on the trip, I was startled and deeply troubled to encounter multiple county hospitals that received not one penny of what they were promised in the 2022 budget.”

According to the Ambassador, hospitals on which lives depend, where outbreaks are prevented and suffering is alleviated, did not receive any portion of the US$100,000 or more appropriated by the legislature for them to operate. 

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He added that as reported in the press last week with Tellowoyan Memorial Hospital in Lofa County, these facilities currently survive on the backs of incredibly dedicated health professionals, making do with whatever they can scrape together.

Miamen notes that there can be no better affirmation of recent reports issued by CENTAL detailing how the national budget is being used as a tool for corruption and how decentralization has been reduced to a political token rather than a deliberate effort to devolve power and resources from the central level in Monrovia to counties and communities on the periphery.

He says surely, the American engages as a true Liberian patriot and campaigner for good governance and true decentralization, adding that even as corruption brazenly has its way, Ambassador McCarthy faces the odds and speaks truth to power. 

He wonders when will Liberians engage their democracy and governance as true patriots wanting the best for the country and its people and

leaders truly lead, selflessly, accountably, and transparently, while citizens satisfactorily live up to their civic duties.

Miamen narrates that in January, Transparency International report showed that there is a further decline in Liberia’s score on the index from 29 in 2021 to 26 in 2022, an unfortunate 15-point decline since the score of 41 in 2012. 

According to him, the TI report corroborated by CENTAL 2022 State of Corruption Report (SCORE 2022), which he says reveals that 90% of Liberians think the Corruption level is high in the county, with declining confidence in the executive branch of government to fight against corruption, from 30% to 26%.

 He pointed out that findings of the US Ambassador’s recent trips to the counties, as contained in his recent statement to the public shed further light on how corruption continues to deprive Liberians of access to crucial services, as a few Monrovia-based power brokers binge on public funds with no pricking of conscience. 

He says while the Ambassador identified county-level challenges, it is important to note that ‘ghost allocations’ are not only akin to entities in the counties, stressing that spending entities in Monrovia have themselves complained that in addition to budgetary allocations not covering essential activities and operations, they are hardly received in full.

CENTAL says it is deeply concerned about the perennially mindboggling neglect of the citizens by their elected and appointed national leaders. This extremely unfortunate development has to stop, if the people must truly and measurably benefit from the resources and other assets of the country. 

The CENTAL Boss used the occasion to call on national leaders, especially the President and Lawmakers to forge collaborations that would place citizens at the center of their engagements and decisions and not otherwise. 

He says in part, they should make the national budget work for the people by adequately funding educational, medical, agricultural and other agencies and institutions directly serving the needs of the public. 

He recommends that the Liberian Government should reduce funding to the President, Vice President, Speaker, and other high political offices and redirect those resources to activities and programs in health, education, and other sectors that will directly benefit citizens.

“If it must be regarded as truly representing the people and not itself, they must be robust in their duties.”

Miamen adds that blended support and engagement that sees development partners not only providing financial and technical support to civil society, government, and other institutions but also openly commending and criticizing major developments in Liberia is welcomed and or should be pursued.

He names public Integrity Institutions such as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission should be adequately funded and robust in their engagements and performance of their duties, setting example on the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission that should enforce laws on Asset Declaration and ensure timely investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.

He reiterates that Liberians across the country have a greater responsibility to ensure that leaders are held accountable, adding “Development partners cannot do for us what we ought to do for ourselves. Therefore, Liberians should stand up and demand accountability from their leaders at all times.” 

“As the October elections draw near, let us summon the courage to engage all those seeking our votes for their visions and practical actions in dealing with corruption and making our resources work for all”, Miamen concludes. Editing by Jonathan Browne 

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