The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) expresses dismay over the country's rating in the 2019 Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International, the global coalition against corruption, terming Liberia as the worst decliner.
In its report entitled "Corruption Perception Index 2019: Liberia Fast Declining in Corruption Fight, Government Must Act Now, the organization discloses that keeping big money out of politics in Liberia is essential to ensuring political decision-making serves the public interest and curbs opportunities for corruption deals.
CEMTAL notes that countries that perform well in the CPI have stronger enforcement of campaign finance regulations and broader consultation in policy decisions, including strong institutions, strong judiciary and freedom of expression, adding that countries with lower CPI scores experience an uneven balance of power, where a few wealthy and connected individuals control government purse strings and decision-making .
It says countries that perform poorly on the CPI have higher perceptions among people that money influences elections, and that results show more than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on the CPI, with an average global score of just 43.
The statement indicates that it is regrettable to note that Liberia's score significantly dropped to 28; four point down from the 2018 score of 32. The country now ranks 137/180, joining the list of countries significantly declining on the CPI since 2012, including Congo (19), Madagascar (24) and Malawi (31), respectively.
Its adds that with exception of Saint Lucia that has dropped sixteen (16) points since 2012, only Liberia and Syria have fallen thirteen (13) points since 2012, noting that the country's highest score of 41 was attained in 2012 and the country has failed to perform any greater since, instead, Liberia has slided back into fostering a culture of corruption and significantly undermining gains made in strengthening governance, financial management, and the rule of law.
The statement continues that it must be noted that Liberia's improved performance in 2012 was mainly attributed to passage of key laws and establishment as well as strengthening of public integrity institutions, but the country has since failed to make these institutions and laws work, as the laws are neither enforced nor respected, and public integrity institutions not fully supported, morally and financially to deliver.
The CENTAL statement read by its Executive Director, Anderson Miamen, among other things recommends scrupulous enforcement of existing global, regional and national laws, policies and frameworks for fighting against corruption, mainly in Liberia, and that the law must work for all and not selected few persons in society.
It calls for timely implementation of anti-corruption commitments in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, especially speedy establishment of a specialized Anti-Corruption Court as well as provision of direct prosecutorial power to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to aid in timely processing and prosecuting corruption cases.
CENTAL further calls for a comprehensive audit of the past administration to ensure that those who embezzled public resources are identified and prosecuted, and that recommendations contained in existing reports of LACC, General Auditing Commission (GAC), IAA and other integrity institutions must be timely implemented.
It wants the Weah administration to address impunity through prosecution of allegedly corrupt officials, among other efforts, investigation into the $25 million mopping up exercise must be completed and those implicated prosecuted, timely and impartially; increasing moral and financial support to public integrity institutions to operate fully and independently.
It warns that continuous limited funding to public integrity institutions does not show strong commitment to dealing with corruption in the country, which is critical to success of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, and maintains the civic space and allow media, civil society and other critical voices to By Emmanuel Mondaye