EDITORIAL: The Needless GOL’s Reaction To Amb. McCarthy’s Statement

LAST WEEK, THE Government of Liberia in its bid to dissuade the public from giving credence to the scathing critique on the level of public corruption in Liberia and the neglect of the citizens as stated by the outgoing United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, especially in the health sector and the unfunctional status of most the service centers throughout the country, came up with its own reaction to respond to the statement which went viral thereafter.

IN SO DOING, the main objective of the government was among other things, convey a message that contrary to what the Ambassador presented, the government had over the years expended a good portion of its revenue on addressing the challenges in some critical sectors of the economy as well as being proactive enough to provide services that impact on the wellbeing of the people.

WHILE IT IS our conviction that it could be in the right direction for every government to respond to situation when its credibility or performance is being questioned, it is also important that such venture should be properly done and that it should be able to address the issues raised against it for which there could be a compelling need to respond or react.

WE SEE THE response to the Ambassador’s statement as needless in the first place and secondly it did not address the issues raised but instead the government went on a fairytale spree to paint a different picture that was not the main thrust of the diplomat’s critique. Mr. McCarthy did not say the government did not spend money on projects and catering to the needs of the people but bulk of the money was never expended as reported in the government’s financial statements, and left health institutions and service centers paralyzed. So, why did the government react differently and unnecessarily too?

UNDER A SERIOUS government that understands that constructive criticism is germane in assisting the system to correct some pitfalls with the view of providing robust solutions to issues at hand, Ambassador McCarthy should be commended for highlighting the pitiful situations where funds allocated in the national budget, disbursed to the appropriate institutions but the purposes for which they were allocated were not executed.

PUT DIFFERENTLY, WHAT the Ambassador was simply trying to bring to the notice of the government was that why it may be true that there could be documentary proof that the government may have invested in areas that are germane to the growth and development of the nation such as health and education but the money as reported in the national budget, never reached the targeted institutions to undertake those projects but may have been diverted to personal pockets. McCarthy named the Tellewoyan hospital in Lofa that could not access the funds meant to purchase drugs and other accessories for the health center and the lack of a functional printer at a local service center and impeded the printing of certificates for up to 4 years despite clear evidence that money was set aside towards the above causes.

WE BELIEVE THE right option available to the government was to take seize of the statement and launch an intensive investigation and audit to determine whether indeed funds meant for specific purposes in institutions were actually disbursed from the national treasury and if so, how much was it and who received the money and what was bought or how was the money expended on the intended projects.

THE OUTCOME OF such a probe would have informed the government what should have been the right approach to comment on what the Ambassador said. Issuing a release to defend the indefensible without establishing the facts surrounding the statement only served to justify the alleged corruption and misplace of priorities the government was accused of.

THE GOVERNMENT OF Liberia does not need to shy away from admitting to facts that are very glaring. The hospitals and other health centers in the country are empty, drugs and other needed accessories as well as facilities to address the health needs of the people are lacking. This has resulted in rising death rates from treatable ailments and the fact that citizens who could afford it have been travelling to neighboring African countries like Ghana, Nigeria, as well as to far distant places like India, Turkey, United States, etc.

THESE ARE SOME pieces of evidence that no one needs to depend on the American Ambassador to highlight and still be met with unnecessary press statements to deny them.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS indeed failed on this and needs to wake up to the reality that the best option to defend itself is to be truthful to its people and do the right thing because that is the only way it can deliver the good things in governance.

WE CAUTION THE government not to invest its time and energy to perpetually put up a defense which is not even necessary in the first place but should embrace constructive criticism such as that of the Ambassador’s statement which was actually meant to make the job of the government easier in identifying the loopholes and the deception in its public service.

THE GOVERNMENT MUST see its recent reaction which did not only embarrass it, but did not yield anything positive except that it has exacerbated the mistrust the citizens have been harboring about it when it comes to massive corruption in the public service. It is therefore our hope that the government will retrace its path and seek for better way to address issues that bring its reputation to public ridicule.

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