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Editorial: Good, But Not Enough

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The global corruption watchdog, Transparency International or TI has released its Corruption Perception Index for 2010. This year’s report shows that Liberia is making a strong progress in the fight against corruption! The report ranked Liberia 11 out of 47 African countries surveyed. The figure indicates that Liberia scored higher in controlling its perceived levels of corruption, according to TI.

This translates into an improvement of 19 places within a year, moving Liberia up from its 30th place rank in 2009, and puts Liberia at a 63% improvement between 2009 and 2010. Globally, Liberia climbed 51 places during the year, moving from 138th to 87th, according to the report.  This reflects a 37% improvement on the control of corruption in Liberia, it says. Liberia’s progress is particularly notable because Transparency International generally found little progress across the globe.

Transparency International is the global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption. Through more than 90 chapters worldwide and an international secretariat in Berlin, TI raises awareness of the damaging effects of corruption and works with partners in government, business and civil society to develop and implement effective measures to tackle it. This is a worthy achievement by international perception, but more needs to be done to reflect this locally.

Why it is true that we embraced the gains being made by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration as evidence by some of these reports, we are quick to point out here that much still needs to be done. It is very easy to be appraised by international partners or organizations in terms of performances as they see it on a whole. But the reality on the ground here is that the government is yet to set an example of a public figure who has been accused of theft, prosecuted and sentenced and assets illegal acquired frozen.

Yes, the government has established several institutions, amongst them the General Auditing Commission, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, reforming financial management with the Public Financial Management Law and a transparent budget process and assuring Liberia’s compliance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative through the LEITI but it is still scoreless in terms of punishment.

But it is yet to prosecute any official based on the findings of let say the GAC. It is an open secret that findings of the GAC are often subject to words of war between the GAC and government agencies audited. We totally agreed that under our lords, an individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, but the government must initiate the step of prosecution at all levels. We at the New Dawn believe that the battle against this systemic corruption here can best be fought when justice is served for the tax payers, by punishing and freezing the assets of individuals who have acquired them through illegal means.

Currently, this government has on records several former officials amongst them, former Liberia Petroleum Refining Company Managing Director Harry A. Greaves, former Internal Affairs Minister, Ambulai Johnson, and Dr. Lawrence Bropleh who have been relieved of their posts under questionable circumstances, but are yet to have their day in court. If the government does not work harder to ensure that is fight against corruption is also accepted here and not only internationally, it may be shooting itself in the leg.

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