A Presidential ultimatum to officials here to declare their assets in line with a National Code of Conduct has largely gone unheeded, as the December 12, 2018 deadline announced by President George Manneh Weah expired Wednesday with key officials, including members of the Cabinet yet to declare properties they owned prior to coming in government.
The General Auditing Commission, the anti-graft institution statutorily responsible to peruse or verify assets declared is yet to announce which officials have declared or are yet to comply accordingly.
But information gathered by the NewDawn indicates key ministers, deputy ministers and heads of public agencies are yet to fully declare their assets, 11 months after the ascendency of the Coalition-led government.
Last Thursday, 6 December President Weah ordered members of his cabinet, who are yet to declare their assets to do so in a week or face punitive action consistent with law. The President vows that asset declaration under his regime will be enforced to the letter and there will be no sacred cows.
“During the campaign, we told the people of Liberia and assured the international community that our government would adopt a zero tolerance posture towards corruption and graft and would demonstrate utmost transparency and accountability,” he reminds, and adds; “It is therefore important and critical that each of you serving in my government declare your assets to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission in one week.”
He gave the instruction during a special cabinet meeting held at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill.The LACC has reported that only 25 percent of members of the Executive have filed in their asset declaration.
The Liberian leader, who commended his cabinet for their laudable efforts in meeting the goals of his government, said he would not tolerate delays and excuses by delinquent members of the Cabinet on the declaration of their assets.
He said his government and the entire country have much to benefit when officials demonstrate probity which comes with transparency and accountability. “And this is not anything imposed on us as a government,” he said, adding: “We promised we would do better, and better we must do.”
President Weah notes that besides the fact that asset declaration adds transparency and accountability value to his administration and makes the government responsible to citizens and the international community, it will be not an option left at the volition of officials, but a legal obligation that will come with penalties under the law.
Most officials are finding it difficult to publicly declare which properties they had prior to coming in government, especially as many of them just bought homes and cars the worth millions of dollars less than 12 months.
The public is keeping a close watch to see whether or not; this threat from the Executive would be translated into action, as most of the officials concerned are buddies and loyalists of the President.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne