The Chairperson for Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, Cllr. James N. Verdier, has complained here that the building hosting the LACC offices is not ideal for the Commission, alarming noting that “intruders” have been loitering the premises.
He said it on Thursday, March 19, 2015 when the LACC held a round-table discussion with partners, graced by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the Governance Commission Chairperson, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, among others.
Cllr. Verdier said the building is not suitable to host LACC offices, suggesting the need for a more conducive place for the security of LACC staff.
The current offices in which the LACC is hosted on Ashmum Street, is the 18th century Executive Mansion of Liberia’s 18th President, William V.S. Tubman and his predecessor, President Edwin J. Barclay.
While presenting the LACC’s three years strategic plan and roadmap to international partners to seek their financial, moral and technical support in the fight against corruption, Cllr. Verdier emphatically said the Commission faces serious problems regarding the lack of expertise in technical areas such as personnel, forensic, investigative and law-enforcement.
His conclusion in regards to capacity and logistical problems at LACC is that the anti-graft commission is being underfunded; while at the same time decrying criticism from colleague government officials against LACC staff, as officials would perceive the Commission’s attempt to validate information aimed at uncovering facts as meaning that they are already indicted.
The Commission, in its 2014-2017 strategic plans, requests for nearly five million United States Dollars to fight corruption. This aspect will also involve awareness to locals, including marketeers, on grounds that corruption could be traced wherever public funds are expended and not only in government alone.
He says the LACC would require another three million dollars for law enforcement in the three years, while institution management and capacity building, which will include decentralizing of LACC’s offices to leeward counties, would require additional seven million dollars.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf pledged government’s commitment and political will at the highest level to working with the LACC in the fight against corruption, as she emphasized that corruption and capacity problems were some key factors that undermined development.
She recalled that members of the Legislature, including the Senate and the House of Representatives have equally expressed concerns over the issues of corruption, and asked that they should join hands in dealing with the “Dracula”, as the Liberian leader termed it.
Commenting on the proposed three years budget from the Commission, President Sirleaf said it seemed easy to obtain; but what she had problem with was the aspect contained in the institution building plan [that may be creating many regional offices], which government tries to prevent.
President Sirleaf has however encouraged international partners to work with the LACC as they pledged their commitment during the event yesterday, committing the government to initiate a political dialogue as suggested by the European Union.
The Liberian leader has asked authorities at the LACC to work with the Ministry of Education to see if there’s anything in the Liberian educational curriculum regarding teaching anti-corruption lessons at the primary school levels to prepare students in the anti-graft strategy here.
Governance Commission Chairperson, Dr. Amos Sawyer, said for the integrity institutions to grow stronger, they need more support, as investing in the LACC, also means investing in good governance and the citizenry.
LACC’s Vice Chairperson, Cllr. J. Augustine Toe, had earlier recalled that the three years plan was developed after President Sirleaf reconstituted the Commission in 2013, and set out a roadmap to what the LACC could achieve in three years.
He said the event was meant to share the plans with partners to seek their support, realizing that the fight is a collective one as Liberia could not achieve all by herself.
By Winston W. Parley