Monrovia — United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, has termed corruption as a serious problem that needs to be addressed in order to ease the difficulties Liberians are faced with in the affording ends meal.
"Corruption remains a serious problem in Liberia. It undermines transparency, accountability, and people's confidence in government institutions, "Ambassador Malac said.
Ambassador Malc said corruption in Liberia is increasing the cost of products and services that are difficult for many Liberians to afford.
"It [corruption] also adds unnecessary costs to products and services that are already difficult for many Liberians to afford. President Sirleaf, in a recent statement, declared corruption to be public enemy number one," Amb. Malac continues.
According to Ambassador Malac, the United States government and other international partners are working with the government of Liberia in addressing the problem of corruption. She applauded the good work of the government, civil society organizations and members of the press to shed light on corruption.
The U.S. Ambassador urged the legislative and judicial branches of government to follow the executive by setting a code of conduct and annual asset declaration that are verified. She calls on all Liberians to play a role in combating corruption by refusing to pay bribes and also by reporting dishonest authorities who solicit or accept bribes.
The US Ambassador spoke at program marking the official opening ceremony of the G-16 inter high school Accountability and Transparency Forum organized by the Mano-River Union Youth Parliament Liberia Chapter. Ambassador Malac said, corruption does not only affect government and the private sector, adding that corruption also affects the schools.
"School administrators and teachers who don't show up for work, but still collect a paycheck? That's corruption," Malac said. "Students who cheat on homework and exams, that's too, is a form of corruption."
Youth and Sport Minister, Eugene Nagbe, said a lack of transparency has proven to be the reason for under development of any nation.
"We [Liberians] suffer more from corruption more than developed countries because we do not have system in place," Nagbe said.
The youth and Sports Minister cautioned his colleagues to be transparent in their work so as to rid the public of the perception that government officials are corrupt. A senior student of the Sinkor Assemblies of God Mission School, Kelvin Menating said, building integrity clubs in schools will minimize corruption in Liberia.
"It is important that students get involved in fighting corruption because if we are not taught at this level to be transparent and accountable than Liberia has a problem," Menating said.
According to Menating, if students are accustomed to paying bribes for grades, adding that it is most likely that they will carry in the larger society. Menating thanked the organizer for the transparency and accountability forum noting that he hopes it will be nationwide campaign. Lofa County Senator George Tengbeh said, the high school accountability and transparency forum by the MRU Youth Parliament should be decentralized.
"We have heard of political prison in Liberia, journalists have gone to jail, you can go to jail for rape, but I have not seen one person going to jail for corruption I stand to be corrected," Tengbeh said.
The Lofa County Senator said, there are institutions in Liberia that are fighting corruption, adding that the problem is lack of political will from the executive to prosecute corrupt officials.