By Victor C. Hanson, Jr
The Government of Liberia through the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has launched its strategic plan in observance of the International Anti-Corruption Day to assist in the fight against corruption in the country.
Speaking at the program in observance of International Anti-Corruption Day held in Monrovia, under the theme: “Breaking the Corruption Chain”, VP Joseph N. Boakai said in evidence of the government’s drive to confront the malaise of corruption; the country has ratified the Convention and the country as well ratified the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
VP Boakai said, “We have obligated ourselves to adopt and implement policies that prevent and penalize corruption.This government takes keen interest in this year’s theme. Corruption is deeply rooted in the country’s social, cultural, economic and political governance, a situation that the government inherited and it indeed continues to be that specter that seriously and critically haunts the government’s development agenda.”
VP Boakai urged all Liberians to break away from the past which was characterized by bad economic and political governance.
“We as a nation spanning every stratum of our population will instead need to refocus our energy and attention on promoting accountability and transparency by sincerely joining this daunting fight against corruption in our society, ”he asserted.
VP Boakai stated that they have worked with members of the Legislature for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act and now the National Code of Conduct which was finally passed in June 2014, and the Government of Liberia is constantly adopting new regulations and strengthening laws and policies to address the increasing occurrence of improprieties in public offices.
He said, to its credit, the Government of Liberia has declared corruption and all its vices a “public enemy No. 1”. Establishing and operationalizing the LACC was a giant and historic step in battling the endemic act of corruption and its vestiges.
He pointed out that the fight against corruption in the country is still encumbered with numerous challenges which include delay in the prosecution of corruption cases and lack of cooperation on the part of some government institutions to provide relevant documentation that could assist the Commission.
“The President’s challenge to you, Commissioners of the LACC is to work harder to improve public confidence in this Government through your enforcement mandate. The Government broadly supports the efforts of the Commission in seeking additional legislations for the establishment of specialized court to deal with corruption cases, the passage of the Illicit Enrichment Bill and the Corrupt Offences Bill,”Veep Boakai said.
He said as every Liberian is aware that corruption impedes development and undermines efficient service delivery especially to the poor, public resources are diverted from needed investments in all sectors, particularly in transportation, energy, health and education.
VP Boakai concluded that as the LACC Strategic Plan has been launched, it is expected to be used as a vehicle in the fight against corruption for the next three (3) years as the President and this Administration do promise the full support of the Government, the Government will encourage development partners in getting the plan implemented.
Meanwhile the Executive Chairperson of LACC, James Verdier, said it is exactly a decade since the world at large commenced the celebration of International Anti-Corruption Day in Merida, Mexico in 2004. Since then, appropriate programs have been planned and executed in observance of this day every succeeding year.
Cllr. Verdier said, “There is still huge challenge in fighting corruption in Liberia and we must do more to garner international confidence which would lead to more investments and stronger developments across the country”.
He added that it is particularly important to mention that corruption is not only prevalent in under developed countries; it also represents a colossal challenge in developed countries as well, the more rich part of the world is complicit in corruption since the proceeds of corruption often find sanctuary and safe passage in financial centers located in the developed world.
Cllr. Verdier concluded that LACC continues to look to increasing government’s support through all possible funding windows, but particularly through adequate appropriation in the national budget and practical the financial autonomy and independence of the LACC.
By Victor C. Hanson, Jr