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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called for a system of accreditation and monitoring of national and international non-government organizations operating in Liberia to ensure transparency and accountability.

She said records show that 243 national and international entities are registered as nongovernmental organizations here, clearly overwhelming the country’s tiny population of 4.5 million.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Monday, January 25, 2016 delivered her 11th Annual Message to the 5th Session of the Liberian Legislature sitting in the Richard R. Tolbert Joint Chambers of the Capitol Building Addressing the 5th Session of the 53rd Liberian Legislature sitting in joint chambers Monday at the Capitol Building in Monrovia, Madam Sirleaf mandated the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to prioritize the publication of guidelines applicable to NGOs.

“A more standard-based environment”, she said, “is required for our partners to operate while ensuring accountability to both donors and beneficiaries and respecting the sovereignty of our nation which makes us accountable not to foreign entities but to our people.”

Meanwhile, the President has been defending her government’s fight against corruption, which she notes, threatens the rule of law and impedes national development.  She said the practice frustrates efforts to fairly distribute national resources, undermines essential democratic values, renders institutions ineffective, and retards socio-economic and political development.

“For these reasons, we established the fight against corruption as a major objective at the inception of this Administration. We have addressed some of the root causes– lack of systems, institutions, laws, values, policies and strategies, inadequate compensation, and poor capacity.

While outlining efforts in the fight against corruption including termination of officials, restructuring the Prosecution Department of the Ministry of Justice, prosecuting accused persons, reinvigorated the Public Procurement Concession Commission as well as proposing a special court for economic crime, among others.

She said as a result of these strives by her government, Liberia has passed the Millennium Challenge Corporation scorecard on control of corruption for the last four consecutive years, and since 2007,

moved from 176th place on the Objective Global Ranking Index of Transparency International to 97 in 2015 out of 186 countries assessed annually.

She said notwithstanding the progress, Liberia continue to grapple with negative perceptions about corruption, adding “Too often, we keep saying things that are not true. Too often, we accuse when there is no evidence.”

The President stressed that the war against corruption must be holistic with the full participation of all well-meaning Liberians and friends, social and political institutions, civil society and faith-based organizations joining with Government.

“Those who give bribes are as guilty as those who receive bribes. They are equally culpable and subject to punishment”, she said. Madam Sirleaf said Liberians must continue to embrace and inculcate a spirit of hard work, integrity, and honesty in their respective homes, in schools, at work places, and in places of worship. “That is the only way we can defeat this societal problem.”

By Jonathan Browne

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