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GeneralLiberia news

Implement anti-corruption policies

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) urges the Boakai administration to fight corruption by prosecuting culprits.

By Lewis S Teh

Monrovia, Liberia, April 10, 2024—The Boakai administration is under immense pressure to fight corruption and misappropriation in the public sector and restore trust.

The Charge d’ affaires at the Embassy of the United States near Monrovia, Catharine Rodriguez, recently urged President Joseph Boakai to take concrete actions on audit findings to bring massive growth and development to the country.

“There must also be concrete actions taken on audit findings and recommendations to address identified deficiencies and make corrections. Most importantly, when individuals are found to have committed fraud, waste, or abuse of public resources, they must be held accountable”, Ambassador Rodriguez said.

Now, USAID Country Director Jim Wright is calling on the new administration to implement anti-corruption policies hastily and immediately prosecute those who will be held liable.

Mr. Wright, in a strongly-worded statement in Monrovia on Monday, April 8, at the start of a four-day joint-sectoral portfolio performance review hosted by the Government of Liberia, noted, “Today, I would be most interested in hearing how the Government of Liberia is thinking about its development plans and priorities. I also am interested in hearing how the Government of Liberia plans to increase accountability and transparency in the management of public resources.” 

He said corruption prevents the government and people of Liberia from realizing their goals of social and economic development and job creation while diverting precious donor resources from benefiting their intended recipients – the people of Liberia. 

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He reiterated, “I strongly urge the Liberian government to implement anti-corruption policies and prosecute those responsible for corruption.” He explained that USAID designs and implements its programs within the framework of a five-year strategy.

The Country rep continued that USAID developed this strategy (and all the programs it implements) to align with and support Liberia’s strategic development initiatives, revealing, “We will be designing a new strategy that will take effect in 2025.” 

He said that to achieve this, the Agency will undertake extensive consultations with its government counterparts at the national, county, and district levels, including civil society, private sector organizations, and other development partners.

“To be successful, we are dependent on local leadership to set the priorities, fully participate in co-creation to shape projects, and engage in implementation to ensure meaningful sustainability.”

Mr. Wright called on the Liberian government to take full responsibility for its development issues, stressing that it is responsible for its development challenges and should be commended for devising Liberian-led solutions to these challenges. 

“Our activities are supplemental, and not a substitution for Liberian government’s funding; in that vein, it is critical that Liberia’s annual budget set aside line items for service delivery and that funds reach their intended destinations,” he said.

He asked the government to increase budget accountability and transparency and recommended that a budget hearing be underway to establish priorities and align the budget to them.

Deputizing for the minister of finance and development planning, Boimah Kamara, and deputy finance minister for fiscal affairs, Delphuo Zuo, lauded Liberia’s development partners for their continuous support.

“This session is to re-engage and review development financing across all sectors. This exercise is intended to set the tone for effective aid dialogue, coordination, management, and leadership, which is to grow the vision of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai”, Mr. Zuo said.

According to him, the President’s vision for a new Liberia, as outlined in the ARREST platform, cannot be achieved without the support and commitment of key sectors, prime development partners, civil society, and the private sector.

He said it would require collaborative efforts of various ministries and agencies, development partners, civil society, media, citizens, and every well-meaning citizen.

“We are aware that similar efforts were made in June 2023, but a lot has happened since then. Liberia had its recent election, and Liberia is moving towards the end of its own national vision 2030,” he said.

He said the dialogue was therefore, quite important so that partners and citizens can brainstorm on how best they can harness resources and support across the country in preparing a national development plan.

He noted that the previous administration’s development roadmap, the PAPD, has expired. It’s incumbent upon a new team, particularly in sector ministries and agencies, to prepare a review policy to identify gaps such as lack of commitment and some challenges outlined in the PAPD report to prepare a new development plan, dubbed the RESCUE and RESURRECTION agenda. 

Minister Zuo noted that it would require reflections on development policy and implementation gaps, which the forum was organized to address. 

“I will also want to thank the farsighted team, which is currently working on the national development plan, and the development partners that designed the study, drivers for sustainable development, and inclusive development of Liberia, which contributed to building policy work in Liberia.”

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Country Manager here, Benedict Kanu, extolled the government and its partners for their farsightedness in organizing a joint-sectoral review of government projects.

Mr. Kanu called on the government to see an urgent need for an increase in private sector development, something he believes will help the government in planning its own agenda.

The statement said the government should lead its development process and emphasize impactful development, stressing the need for the government to focus on private sector investment for job creation.

He also wants the Government of Liberia to exercise stronger ownership of its development process by ensuring it delivers its development program in a more impactful way, which he believes is currently lacking. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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