The Government of Liberia has discounted recent comments and allegations by the Liberia Council of Churches or LCC of its poor performance in fighting corruption.
The government described the idea of issuing statements that are a misrepresentation of the fact as an attempt to undermine its efforts. Information Minister Lewis G. Brown expressed the frustration on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, during his ministry’s regular press briefing on Capitol Hill.
Minister Brown, in response to the LCC allegations regarding the government’s inability to stop corruption, as well as improve the living conditions of its citizens across the country, noted that Corruption remains public enemy number one, further, describing it as a “vampire” – a reminder of the seriousness of such societal ill, as well as the duty Liberians share to fight it everywhere in the government, the church, various communities, schools and our homes.
“Making the fight as inclusive as possible is how we will continue to be successful. There is no doubt that the Church is an enduring pillar of the Liberian State. This enviable position imposes a duty- perhaps more than on many other institutions of the Liberian society, to be enjoined with the government in ensuring the total health of the nation whose lifeblood corruption- the “vampire”, is desperate to suck away. And so, we continue to believe that we can both do more, but the need to do more in the fight against corruption ought not to translate into an understanding by the Council that nothing has been done to fight corruption,” Minister Brown indicated.
According to him, in 2007, Liberia was included in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) Ranking which ranks countries of the world from least corrupt to most corrupt by objective measures of various independent organizations. In 2007, Liberia wallowed at the bottom ranking 150 out of 180 countries, while in 2008, the country ranked 138 out of 180 countries and in 2009, advanced 41 places and ranked 97 out of 180 countries.
In 2010, the country ranked 87, while in 2011, apparently distracted by the conduct of free and fair elections, the country ranked 91, further achieving in 2012 its highest ranking and highest place of 75 out of 176 countries.
In 2013, the country dropped eight places to rank 83 out of 177 countries and outperformed many of its neighbors and countries on the continent. According to the latest report for 2014, the difficult year of the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak, the country is placed at 94 out of 175 countries – the objective proof of the measure of progress in the fight against corruption.
“ Improving the welfare of our people is at the core of the purpose of this administration. This is why we continue to prioritize the infrastructure, especially electricity and roads, as the backbone to Liberia’s economic growth and development. The harsh truth is that of Liberia’s 10,000km of roads, only about 700km is paved, and to pave the roads as we desire, will cost US$2.2bn –money that the country does not have,” he said.
“Within our means and with the support of our partners, we continue to open new access and pave more streets and highways in the country because the multiplying effect is to reduce the cost of living on our people. On Sunday, September 13, we dedicated one such projects at the cost of more than US$8m to safely link the Township of Caldwell to Monrovia and as far as Kakata in Margibi County.
It can be recalled that Liberia Council of Churches last weekend issued a statement of allegations against the government. The LCC indicated that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, during her first inaugural address to the nation, promised the citizens and the world- that corruption would be the “Number One State Enemy,” noting that contrary to such promise, the President, in one of her addresses to the Nation, disclosed that corruption has become a vampire to the state.
According to the LCC statement, the reality of her initial statement and encouraging promise to the people is yet to be actualized and proven. The statement noted that nation and people continue to suffer from the ills of rampant corruption in the hands of entrusted public officials.
The LCC, representing the Conscience of the Liberian people, called for stern and tougher actions against corrupt government officials without fear or favor, indicating that from international and national sources, most Liberian citizens live below One United States dollar a day. The statement said amid stunning reality, prices of basic needs have increased, while the wage disparity between the affluent and poor is very huge, leaving the nation without a middle class. It said basic social services, including access to safe drinking water, electricity, good roads and sanitation – even in the urban areas and immediate environs are inadequate.
By Lewis S. Teh