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Weah gives officials ultimatum

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President George Manneh Weah has 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.

His call on Thursday, 6 December comes roughly 11 months in office, far beyond the mandate of the National Code of Conduct that says in Section 10.1 that every public official and employee of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office.

This Section of the National Code of Conduct further says the official shall also declare their assets at the end of every three years; on promotion or progression from one level to another; upon transfer to another public office; and upon retirement or resignation.

According to the Executive Mansion, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has reported that only 25% of members of the Executive have filed in their asset declaration, meaning 75% are flouting the National Code of Conduct on asset declaration.

However, the Executive Mansion indicates that President Weah says 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,” President Weah is quoted by the Mansion as saying.

“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 continues.

His instruction to his officials came Thursday, 6 December during a special cabinet meeting held at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which temporarily hosts the presidency.Meanwhile, President Weah commends his cabinet for their laudable efforts in meeting the goals of his government, but warns that he would not tolerate delays and excuses by delinquent members of the Cabinet on the declaration of their assets.

He says 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 says, adding: “We promised we would do better, and better we must do.”

President Weah says asset declaration adds transparency and accountability value to the government and makes the government responsible to citizens and the international community.

He further recognizes that it will be not an option left at the volition of officials, but a legal obligation that will come with penalties under the law.In another development, President Weah has also instructed all government ministries, agencies and commissions to submit their procurement plans to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) in the shortest possible time.

The Executive Mansion says President Weah orders that ministries or agencies failing to submit their procurement plan will be denied their allotments.“I am ordering the Minister of Finance not to honor or execute any payment to any ministry or agency failing to submit its procurement plan,” President Weah says.

“I am sure this will compel delinquent agencies to comply,” he continues.President Weah tells his cabinet that as the first anniversary of his government draws near, it is incumbent on officials of his administration to ensure that critical actions and policies agreed upon at the beginning of the government be implemented or at least substantially implemented.

He makes the call so that the larger Liberian public would be assured that his government means business or that they are not here to joke.“Keeping our promises is the greatest seasons’ gift we can give our people,” he stresses.President Weah further reiterate his calls for members of his cabinet to be tax compliant, sending out the caveat that tax delinquent officials will be compelled into compliance.

He urges the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Liberia Revenue Authority and other line ministries to devise means by which non-compliant officials’ salaries will be subjected to monthly deduction.“The progress we are making and celebrating today is because somebody somewhere paid their taxes,” he acknowledges.

“Today, Doe Community, Clara Town and many other communities are celebrating new developments, including new roads because taxes were paid by somebody. We can’t sit here and share in that celebration when we are not making contribution to things we claim as our handiworks,” he notes.

The President and his cabinet used the meeting to discuss many other important national issues and strategies to make the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development work to achieve its objectives and targeted deliverables.The Cabinet, among other things, agreed to embark upon a national address system which will capture and locate every building or structure with their specific details within the borders of Liberia.

To this effort, the President has constituted a special committee to develop a framework for the national address system and report subsequently to the Cabinet. Members of the special committee include the Post and Telecommunications Ministry, Liberia Revenue Authority, the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, and the Liberia Electricity Corporation.

Other members include PPCC Director Dorbor Jallah and General Services Agency (GSA) Director General Mary Broh.The Commissioner-General of LRA, Thomas Doe Nah and LACC’s James Verdier made separate presentations on the states and implications of government officials’ compliance in tax payment and asset declarations respectively.

Both men also provided clarifications and enlightenments on their respective programs and policies.
Youth and Sports Minister Zogar Wilson also used the meeting to rally his colleagues who he said represent various counties to provide moral and other necessary support to the National Sports Meet which opens Sunday, 16 December in Sanniquellie, Nimba County.–Press release

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