Barley a week after President George M. Weah delivered his Annual Message before the 54th Legislature, Liberia has sunk to 137th place among countries that are poorly fighting corruption globally, according to the 2020 Corruption Perception Index or CPI report.
Releasing the report in a news conference on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at the head office of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) in Monrovia, Executive Director Mr. Anderson Miamen said since 1995, the Corruption Perception Index has been scoring and ranking countries based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived.
Mr. Miamen said experts and business executives put the CPI range from 0 to 100, where 0 equals the highest level of perceived public sector corruption and 100 equals lowest level of perceived public sector corruption. A total of 180 countries across the world were targeted in 2020, as in 2019.
Giving reports on Liberia’s performance, he said disappointingly, Liberia’s score remains constant at 28 from 2019, having dropped four points down from 32 in 2018, noting that the country now ranks 137/180 and remains further down the table, joining the list of countries significantly declining on the CPI since 2012 except Saint Lucia that has dropped fifteen (15) points worldwide.
He said only Liberia has fallen thirteen (13) points since 2012, adding that since the country attained her highest score of 41 in 2012, it has failed to perform any better. Instead, the country has fostered a culture of corruption and bad governance, significantly undermining earlier gains made.
“It must be noted that Liberia’s improved performance in 2012 was mainly due to passage of key laws and establishment of public integrity institutions”, Mr. Miamen said but noted, the country has since failed to make these institutions and laws work, as the laws are not enforced/respected and public integrity institutions are not fully supported (morally and financially) to satisfactorily deliver.
He detailed that the CPI draws upon 13 data sources, which captured the assessment of experts and business executives on a number of corrupt behaviors in the public sector, including: bribery, diversion of public funds and supplies, use of public office for private gain, and nepotism in the civil service.
Miamen narrated that some of the sources also looked at frameworks, and mechanisms available to prevent and address corruption in a country, such as: the government’s ability to enforce integrity mechanisms; independence of anti-graft institutions, the effective prosecution of corrupt officials; conflict of interest prevention; access to information; freedom of speech and the media, and legal protection for whistleblowers, witnesses, journalists, and investigators.
At the same time giving global highlights on corruption, the CENTAL boss added that the 2020 CPI reveals that, globally, persistent corruption is undermining health care systems and contributing to democratic backsliding amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries that performed well on the index invest more in health care, are better able to provide universal health coverage, and are less likely to violate democratic norms and institutions or the rule of law.
According to him, results show that more than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on the CPI, with an average global score of just 43. Denmark and New Zealand are the highest performers, attaining a score of 88 respectively, while Finland, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland are next at 85 each.
He said at the bottom of the index are Somalia (12), South Sudan (12), Syria (14) and Yemen (15). Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest-scoring region on the CPI with an average of 32, compared to 66 for Western Europe and EU; 43 for the Americas; 45 for Asia Pacific; 39 for Middle East and North Africa; and 36 for Eastern Europe and Central Asia respectively.
Meanwhile, CENTAL says to help improve Liberia’s rating and performance on the CPI, regionally and globally, and reverse the growing negative trend and public perception about the fight against corruption in the country, President Weah and the CDC led Government should lead by examples and pursue a sincere and holistic fight against corruption that does not protect certain individuals and groups accused of corruption, especially high-ups in the government and their relatives, friends, and partners;
“Provide adequate funding and the required independence and latitude to anti-corruption institutions to effectively perform. Continuous limited funding and declining budgets of Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, General Auditing Commission, Public Procurement and Concession Commission, and other public integrity institutions do not show political will and commitment to the fight against Corruption in the Country”
He also calls on the government to fully implement the Code of Conduct for Public Officials, Freedom of Information, and other existing laws and policies governing the fight against corruption in Liberia, and to further prioritize passage of Whistle Blower Protection, Illicit Enrichment, Witness Protection, and other key laws to aid in the fight against Corruption.
By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne