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Special Feature

THE PROBLEM OF PUBLIC/PRIVATE DISHONESTY

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(CORRUPTION)

Public/Private Dishonestyor corruptionis a subject about which we have written extensively. It isa problem which may be likened to the weather – the most enduring, negative impact upon human activities andthe most complained-and-talked-aboutproblem,but the mostno-one-does-anything-aboutProblem in our country. From the government/public officials, private economic organizations/officials, civil society organizations, socio-political activists to watchdog organizations, NO one seems able to muster the determination/political will for action against this socio-economic epidemic. Recently, the current President of the Nation declared that “corruption is Liberia’s public enemy no.1”, But “the beat still goes on”.

While in the USA, in an online exchange of ideas on whether or not corruption is institutionalized in Liberia, we held that “although corruption had been, and is ‘rampant’in Liberia, it is not a matter of public policy.In fact, ‘rampant corruption’ wasthe signature tune of the military coup d’état that alerted and raised public consciousness of the impact and anger of the citizens againstthis costly, crippling, economic disease in Liberia. Corruption is a crime punishable by law; therefore, corruption is not institutionalized in Liberia”.

What is corruption?  Briefly, Corruption is the abuse of entrusted, lawful responsibility and power in committing dishonest, fraudulent acts arising from inordinate greed, graft, moral deterioration and decadence; the unbridled desire to acquire more and more of the good things of life for personal use through fraud. The very term “corruption” is so widely used, according to behavioral scholars, to include all graft & greedy activities – lies, deceit,bribery, nepotism, political wheeling-dealing, bid-rigging, embezzlement or stealing, extortion, vote-buying & elections results-rigging, price-fixing, protection rackets, blackmail and many other, variety of fraudulent, human actions.

A universal phenomenon, corruption is a vice found on all continents, in every country and society, irrespective of economic development and level of affluence. Apparently, corruption is intrinsic in human nature. As such, Liberia and Liberians do not have monopoly of this decadent, socio-cultural behavior. However, research information shows, very clearly, that corruption had been, can be, reduced, controlled and, eventually, eradicated. Oneof such modern examples is the former British Colony of the island of Singapore.

Unique, Liberian Corruption But the Liberian corruption has demonstrated a unique ability to resist,successfully, reduction and control, let alone eventual eradication. The effort to achieve this objective – reduction, control and eventual eradication – requires the development and diligent implementation of rational public policy designedto identify the cause(s) of corruption, an effect,to remove them, and, therefore, the corruption. This approach is possible or doable.

But we, the Republic of Liberia, have not done that; rather, we aided & abetted, continue to aid & abetthe phenomenal increase or growth of corruption, since the founding of the country in 1847.

Examples: High-profiled, executive officials of government, who are placedin control and management of financially-lucrative ministries or agencies of government, build palatial homes (some with swimming pools, in Liberia!), invest in and develop real estate and related private, personal business ventures with stolen public resources. These officialsare commended and rewarded with promotions, becausetheir criminal activities are regarded as “developments”; therefore, they are promotedto higher, much more lucrative and strategic positions in which they are privileged to steal more and more public resources with impunity, rather than be prosecuted and jailed.

These officials work less, earn more, surround themselves with relatives, concubines and cronies, and are emulated by the young people, future leaders of our country.Evidence of this shameful condition is prevalent in County Capitals and the nation’s Capital City of Monrovia; but no one cares, dares or has the “guts” to speak out against the practice.

Get-Rich-Quick Schemes Traditionally, the Ministry of Finance,now Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFPD) and Revenue Service, now Liberia Revenue Authority,(LRA) had been and still are Liberia’s major sources of “get rich quick schemes”. Now, we have added new ones – the PPC, LAAC, GAC, the Ministries of Justice, Commerce & Industry; Lands, Mines & Energy; Bureau of Immigration, National Security Agency, DEA, Legislative Caucuses (the Budget Law), the National Police and the Courts, etc.

Most of these agencies – the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP) and the Liberia Revenue Agency (LRA), for examples –are over-staffed, over-paid and populated with dual citizens, former Liberians who are now citizens of foreign countries withfamilies living out of Liberia in those foreign countries. These individuals, although over-paid, steal a lot more from the state than any other agency of government.

To get paid by the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning of budgeted, approved and currently-allotted payment, one is required to get the approval/signature of a deputy minister, assistant minister and comptroller in a series of bureaucratic “run-arounds” designed for “tired-outs that send out signals in demand for bribes.

Other sources of “get rich quick schemes” are outright theft of public resources found at the state-owned revenue-generating enterprises – National Port Authority(NPA), Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), enclaves for dual citizensand the Forest Development Authority(FDA). The Liberia Maritime Authority (MTA) and the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR),whichhave been and are unique in dishing out the nation’s money to questionable individuals/organizations for questionable reasons. There are, also, “Counselors-at-Law” who provide so-called “legaland related rationalizations” as prime advisors for these crooks/criminals.

At the NationalLegislature, the traditional “kola” or “cold water” for the Oldman has, now, become “lobbying fees” (modern, fancy terms for stealing),in consideration forappointment confirmations, ratifications oftreaties, concession agreements, such as sale of off-shore oil blocks and laws creating state agencies/organizations are, in fact, bribes in hundreds of thousands of US dollars paid to the “honorables”for doing the work for which they are so highly-paid, with all sorts of “salary/allowances” and un-explained, un-reasonable allowances.

Corruption, Sub-set of Dual Citizenship It is important to note, historically, that some of our African-American brothers& sisters, co-founders of our country, held on to their foreign citizenships because of socio-cultural, economic and political benefits in the early days of the nation during which they dominated and controlled not only the political economy of Liberia, but also the socio-cultural, economic and political leadership of the nation, since its founding in 1847. High officials of the Liberian Government, the ruling, political class, were dual or foreign citizens.

This condition continues today, as shown bythe major, national public policy of the Unitary Structure of the Liberian Government, enshrined in the nation’s Constitution and invested all power in an imperial presidency. Afterdual citizenship was outlawed, dual citizens took refuge in public dishonesty/corruption tocontinue to dominate and control, did dominate and controlled, not only the political economy, but also the socio-cultural, economic, and political landscape of the Liberian nation through descendants.

Public dishonesty/Corruption is a sub-set of dual citizenship. Indeed, due to Public dishonesty/Corruption, Inc., many average Liberians of all ethnic/tribal persuasions who joined government only years ago– especiallyduring and after the civil war – are now listed among Liberia’s wealthy “millionaires” and so-called instant, “new breed of Politicians”.

Corruption in “Brooks Brothers’ & Botany 500” Suits Corruption in Liberiahas been developed into Corruption, Inc.,a successful, thriving, big business, almost an industry; a criminal empire, nowfinanced by the successful Salary/Wage Allowance Policy, but with related, undefined allowances that may be likened to the Mafia. Corruption, Inc. is the brainchild of a corps of highly-educated MBAs, LLMs and PhDs. These“with it”, fast-talking, Hollywood fashion plates, decked out in pin-striped “BB & Botany 500 suits” with button-downs, were carefully selected and suitably-placed as executivesin government andstate-owned enterprises. They captured control of the corridors of state power and, thus, have become the most powerful, public policy decision-makers, Republic of Liberia.

Any reasonable, concerned Liberian may ask,what does this condition say about 2017? Again, as given elsewhere, our answer is thus:

Nothing new, substantively, because all declared candidates for PresidentP R E M I S E D – operations of their governments, if elected, come 2017 – on A S S U M P T I O N S OF 1 8 4 7, the Unitary Structure of government utilized during these 169 years. They promised to continue the obsolete, failed policy, “stay the course” in support of the con men & women – rascals, rebels, dishonest, liars, thieves, bandits, killers – some in government and parading the nation and international community as “honorables”.

But the major problems of Liberia’s under-development – socio-cultural, economic and political – are S T R U C T U R A L. Is it not reasonable, then, that any trained, experienced, patriotic and reasonable political leader-politician responsible to the citizens would seek change/replacement of the unitary structure for reforms and transformation of the Nation’s political enterprise, especially, in the light ofdoing the same thing for more than a century with disastrous results of a failed state? We think so.

But these“politicians”,including the emerged/emerging political class of all ethnic/tribal persuasions, the so-called “new breed”, stocked their guns in the decadent past.

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