The Governance Commission or GC has launched an Anti-Corruption Strategy Roundtable along with stakeholders to help put corrupt practices under control in the country, particularly in the public sector.
The GC says corruption is something that undermines efforts of the government in every sector. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has described corruption in Liberia as a vampire, which refuses to go away and continues to drain State coffers.
According to the Governance Commission, in order to eliminate the practice, there is need for relevant stakeholders to amalgamate forces and work in close contact to discourage would-be corrupt officials.
It said within the Liberian context, corruption has been defined as bribery, embezzlement and extortion, abuse of office, misapplication of entrusted property by an official of a public or private institution, nepotism, tribalism, offering, soliciting or accepting sexual favors in exchange for the performance or omission of an act associated with entrusted authority. Also included are illicit enrichment, rigging of elections and the sales of votes.
The Anti-Corruption Strategy has endeavored to ensure a coordinated, consistent, efficient, realist and sustainable fight against corruption and to promote the full and effective participation of all Liberians and other stakeholders in the undertaking.
Speaking last week at Bella Casa Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia during the launch, the Chairman of the Governance Commission, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, said fighting corruption is one of the key factors to achieving economic growth, but requires full cooperation, coordination and even collaboration with those entities that have the power to bring corrupt officials to justice, something, which will require strengthening the justice system here.
The roundtable discussion brought together officials of government, members of the diplomatic corps and the Liberian Legislature, including Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, who served as Moderator.
The anti-corruption initiative has been a prime focus of the Government of Liberia as manifested by the establishment and improvement of several integrity agencies such as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission; the General Auditing Commission, the Internal Audit Agency, and the Financial Intelligence Unit, respectively.
Speaking also during presentation of the strategy, Dr. Alpha Simpson of DAH Consultant INC. said the primary objective of the strategy is to develop a revised anti-corruption action plan for Liberia that is driven by the comprehensive assessment of progress in the implementation of the overall LNAC and informed by emerging opportunities from international best practices and public perception.
Dr. Simpson said the strategy was presented for high-level officials at the roundtable with their relevant authorities to develop a platform that would plan, execute and monitor the anti-corruption strategy.
The strategy include: designing a system for implementation, formulating ways to incorporate the national Code of Conduct within the implementation strategy, and sponsor public awareness programs by promoting a culture of integrity and ethical behavior in society. Dr. Simpson added that the anti-corruption strategy has endeavored to ensure a coordinated, consistent, efficient, realist and sustainable fight against corruption and to promote the full and effective participation of all Liberians and other stakeholders in this undertaking.
The strategy, which explains that National Anti-Corruption Strategy or(NACS) for 2006-2008, is oriented towards developing capacity and programs to promote good governance, as the Government of Liberia recognized that corruption is widespread and deeply entrenched in all aspects of the Liberian Economy and society, particularly in the public sector.
Meanwhile, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor of Bong County has stressed that there is a need for government to erase people’s mindset about corruption in the country, saying, “If we change the mindset of the people than the issue of corruption will be handled in Liberia.”
Senator Taylor pointed out that it is time that officials or institutions responsible to prosecute those linked to corruption start naming and shaming those involved.
She urged the LACC and GAC not to relent in taking drastic actions against people involved in corrupt practices.
The Chairperson for the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC Cllr. James Verdier, told participants that the LACC doesn’t have the power to reduce corruption from Liberia.
Cllr. Verdier said people should not think that the LACC will lead this fight alone, saying, “Because the more we try our best, the more it gets worse.”
The LACC boss said fighting corruption requires the full participation of every citizen, adding, the fight needs coordination, and cooperation of relevant stakeholders, including government agencies. By Lewis S. Teh – Edited by Jonathan Browne