Barely a day after President George M. Weah’s Annual Message to the 54th National Legislature, an integrity group, Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia or CENTAL, alarms that Liberia’s rank on the corruption index declines to 32, ranking the country among the worst performing countries in West Africa, as per the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score sheet.
The President’s two hours address was conspicuously silent on corruption except that he assured the public that any of his official who may be indicted in the missing 16 billion Liberian banknotes would bear the full weight of the law.
Executive Director Anderson Miamen says the PCI, established in 1995, is used to measure perception in the public sector in countries and territories around the world.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia Tuesday, he says in Africa, only few countries have performed well, including Seychelles (66), Botswana (61), Cape Verde (57) and Rwanda (56) respectively, while best performers include Senegal (45), South Africa (43), and Ghana (41) and worst performing countries are Guinea (28) and Sierra Leone (30) with Liberia sitting below at (32).
According to Mr. Maimen, PCI ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived, drawing on 13 surveys of experts and business people. He adds the scores rank from zero to hundred where zero equals the highest level of perceived corruption, while hundred equals the lowest level of perceived corruption.
This year, 180 countries were targeted, just as in 2017. The result paints a sadly familiar picture with more than two-thirds of countries below 50, while the average score is just 43.
The CENTAL boss notes the disturbing news is that majority of countries assessed have made little or no progress, including Liberia that sits among worst declining countries since 2012 from the PSI score of 41, which show appreciable progress, from which it then drop by 9 points to 32.
According to Mr. Maimen, recent anti-corruption protest from Mongolia, Romania, Guatemala and Liberia clearly indicate citizens are outraged with politicians’ abuse of office and attempt to limits their own accountability, undermining democracy and good governance in the process.
He says globally, Liberia ranks 120 out of the 180 countries targeted with the PCI score, adding that in fact Liberia’s PCI scores declined from 41 in 2012 to 32 in 2018, correspondingly compared to other countries, Liberia is among the biggest decliners since 2012, dropping by 9 points from 41 to 32.
“CENTAL is deeply concern about these developments [about] Liberia’s continuous underperformances, especially its position among the worst decliners worldwide.”
He says this speaks to government’s inability to address entrenched culture of impunity and enforce existing anti-corruption laws and policies.
Meanwhile, CENTAL recommends that officials of all three branches of government must declare their assets, income and liabilities, in full compliance with the Code of Conduct for Public Officials.
It also calls for a comprehensive audit of the former administration to ensure those who embezzled public resources are identified and prosecuted, as well as ensuring independence and vibrancy of anti- corruption institutions by giving them full moral, financial and logistical support to effectively operate.
By Lewis S. Teh –Editing by Jonathan Browne