Despite grim economic conditions facing Liberia and political tension at home, those who are in the business of scientifically assessing governance indicators nonetheless do hold facts to their chests. For instance, amid perceptional views about corruption in the country under the George Manneh Weah leadership, one of the world’s revered corruption watchdog organizations, Transparency International, is saying something diametrically different from the widespread perceptions in the public space. In its recent report, the organization listed Liberia as making marked progress in the fight against corruption. With recent robust actions taken by President Weah nipping corruption in the bud, pundits are of the view that the coming years will see more improved ranking of the country’s fight against the pandemic. The Analyst reports.
The global anti-corruption coalition, Transparency International (TI), has just released its tenth edition of what is known as the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB)–Africa.
The report reveals that more than half of all citizens surveyed in 35 African countries think corruption is getting worse in their countries, with 59 percent of people thinking their government is doing badly at tackling corruption.
But the report ranks Liberia favorably, moving just a step forward in the fight against corruption.
The largest and most detailed survey of citizens’ views on bribery and other forms of corruption in Africa, the survey asked 47,000 citizens in 35 countries about their perceptions of corruption and direct experiences of bribery.
The results show more than 1 in 4 people who accessed public services, such as health care and education, paid a bribe in the previous year. This is equivalent to approximately130 million people on the continent.
The report also highlights that corruption disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, with the poorest paying bribes twice as often as the richest. Young people pay more bribes than those over 55 years old.
“Corruption is hindering Africa’s economic, political and social development. It is a major barrier to economic growth, good governance and basic freedoms, like freedom of speech or citizens’ right to hold governments to account,” said Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International. “While governments have a long way to go in regaining citizens’ trust and reducing corruption, these things don’t exist in a vacuum. Foreign bribery and money laundering divert critical resources away from public services, and ordinary citizens suffer most.”
Transparency International, in a release, urged governments to put anti-corruption commitments into practice and to investigate, prosecute and sanction all reported cases of corruption in both the public and the private sector, with no exception.
In the last few months, President George Manneh Weah has increased its level of anti-corruption measures considerably, including ordering the review of financial reports dating back to ten years towards possible prosecution of likely culprits.
The President has further moved on the radical overhaul of the Central Bank of Liberia which has been in the center of financial scandals extending from the days of the erstwhile predecessor government.
He has often suspended or sacked officials of his government found in corrupt acts.
In a major policy statement a few weeks ago, President Weah declared that a special commission would be set up to follow and bring back all monies purloined from state coffers and kept in foreign banks.
The Transparency International report released 11 July ranks Liberia with Malawi and Mali, with 120 of 180 and with the score of 32 of 100. This is a significant leap from the previous year.
A specific overview of report on Liberia indicates that since the end of the civil war, Liberia has taken important steps to reform its procurement system. Nowadays, the country can count on a robust legal framework on public procurement. There are however serious implementation challenges due to a severe lack of professional workforce and infrastructure in both the public and the private sector.
The Liberian government, the report further indicates, is already addressing these issues through basic and advanced staff training in procurement.
Despite the steps taken in sensitizing and training public procurement practitioners and the progress made, the report however indicates, that there is still a long list of issues that needs to be addressed in order to guarantee an efficient and transparent procurement process.
This entails, according to the report, access to information, whistleblower protection, capacity building in the public and private sector and prevention of conflict of interest among others.
The role of civil society and the public in public procurement should also be strengthened. Civil society can play an important role providing additional oversight and monitoring, but the government of Liberia has not taken full advantage of this possibility.