6 December 2012

Liberia: Feasting On Resources

Despite reported improvements Liberia has made in its corruption eradication drive as shown by an annual corruption perception index report, an anti-graft watchdog has warned that apparent the unwillingness by the government to effectively implement "anti-corruption laws is allowing spoilers in the government to feast on public resources without fear of prosecution."

In its report on corruption index, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) also cautioned Liberians, especially public officials that "Liberia is still a fragile state and corrupt practices that accrue wealth only for those in high positions and their cronies do not represent the reforms and new Liberia we all seek to build."

CENTAL, in collaboration with the local chapter-in-Formation of Transparency International, said Liberia has improved in the 2012 CPI (Corruption Perception Index) and ranks 75 out of 176 countries worldwide compared to 2010 and 2011 when it ranked 87 out of 178 and 91 out of 183 countries respectively.

According to a release from CENTAL, "The 2010 and 2011 rankings accompanied CPI scores of 3.3 and 3.2 out of a maximum of 10 that represents a highly clean nation. Per the 2012 score, Liberia is ranked 11 in Sub Sahara Africa and 3 in West Africa correspondingly. Liberia's CPI ranking shows improvement year-on-year and speaks to efforts being made to address the menace - reforms being initiated and legislations passed."

Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and Singapore, according to the report, remain the highest ranked countries. Meanwhile, Myanmar, Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are the lowest ranked among the 176 countries of 2012, said the report.

At the same time, CENTAL made it diametrically clear that Liberia's improved ranking should not be a matter for celebration, saying "corruption remains pervasive and a major impediment to combating poverty and building institutions that provide effective public service.

CENTAL said discussions about corruption topped national debates and discourses during the last six years.

"We have passed ground-breaking anti-corruption legislations such as the Freedom of Information Act, Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act, Public Financial Management Act, the Public Procurement and Concessions Act, Liberia Anti-corruption Commission Act and an amended Act creating the General Auditing Commission to make it more independent and effective," the release said.

However, the release warned that while passage of laws are pivotal and contributes to Liberia's improved ranking, laws are only useful when applied effectively. "The government's insouciance to effectively apply anti-corruption legislation is allowing spoilers to feast on public resources without fear of prosecution."

CENTAL said its engagements with critical sectors like natural resources, police and education show high level and misapplication of public resources. It then strongly warned that Liberia is still a fragile state and corrupt practices that accrue wealth only for those in high positions and their cronies do not represent the reforms and new Liberia every one seeks to rebuild.

"Liberia is a great country and that greatness can be solidified in part by collective action to fight corruption and improve governance. Let's take our progress in the CPI as a challenge to go beyond mere legislations and strike fear in current and would-be corrupters and their accomplices by robustly prosecuting them. We all want to be part of the collective legacy that makes Liberia better for future generations and ourselves," the release, signed by CNTAL's executive director, Thomas Doe Nah, stated.

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