25 January 2013

Liberia: Bogus Contracts On Increase

The head of Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, (LACC), Cllr Francis Johnson Allison has revealed that too many bogus contracts are being awarded to bogus companies.

The remark came amidst government's promise to run an open and transparent government that would be held accountable to the Liberian people.

Cllr. Allison, making the statement Wednesday at the official launch of Government's Open Budget Initiative (OBI), said government will not succeed in stamping out corruption unless certain unscrupulous people and companies were dealt with.

OBI is a government initiative aimed at providing budget information and increasing citizen participation in the governance process of Liberia, with emphasis placed on transparency and accountability.

But, Cllr. Allison said the initiative will not achieve its objectives, especially in the case where bogus contracts are still being given to certain bogus companies in the country, something she said undermines the intent and spirit of fighting corruption and promoting transparency and accountability.

Liberia's anti-corruption chief also frowned on certain provisions in the Freedom of Information Act which she said limits people from making full disclosures. Unless this provision is amended, Cllr. Allison said the fight against corruption would be undermined. She then called on everyone to revisit the FOA law for possible amendment.

"The open budget initiative that is being launched here today, through the electronic billboard that is supposed to inform the citizens on our budget, income, our revenue and everything is a giant step in the anti-corruption fight" Commissioner Allison said.

"It is indeed a giant step and the highest level of transparency. This is what the fight against corruption is all about. We want to bring in transparency. This is wonderful. This is just one of several steps the government of Liberia has taken in the fight against corruption to adopt the culture of transparency and accountability, and integrity, and we applaud Minister Konneh for this initiative."

In spite of the giant strive by the government, she said investigation conducted by LACC has astonishingly revealed that more bogus contracts were being awarded to several bogus companies across Liberia. But she failed to mentioned specific persons involved in the bogus transactions. She also did not mention the so-called counterfeit companies involved in such actions.

"The Open Budget Initiative is indeed a welcomed development. But having said that, with this kind of transparency that we're adopting today, I think the Freedom of Information Law (FOA) needs to be amended because there're objections.

"If we require the highest standard and openness in government, how can you say that there're objections in the Freedom of Information Act that exempts people from disclosing their assets. We need full disclosures.

"We need full disclosures because a disclosure cannot be one way. We need to disclose everything, including the implementation of the budget. We need to have transparency in there, including people who're awarded contracts. There has to be transparency and openness about that.

"We cannot just show you how much government is generating, how it is spending and don't know those who're using the money to implement projects and how much they're spending there and how people are awarding contracts to people. It has to be transparent. This fight cannot stop here.

"We have seen and investigated that people who're spending government's money are doing it in a way that is not beneficial at the grassroots level because they're creating fake companies and passing that money to those fake companies.

"That is not transparency. We need to look into that, Minister. Therefore, for this against corruption to be fulfilled, we need have full disclosure. The Freedom of Information Act prevents people from making disclosures."

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