Monrovia – Transparency International and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) have called on the administration of President George Weah to “clean up government and tackle corruption.”
CENTAL, Transparency International’s chapter in the West African nation, issued a series of reform and policy recommendations ahead of the inauguration of President Weah on Monday, January 22.
“Liberia has a protracted history of corruption and bad governance, which have consistently undermined sustainable development and effectiveness and efficiency in public service,” Anderson Miamen, executive director of CENTAL, is quoted as saying in a press release.
Continued Miamen: “Stakeholders in Liberia and around the world are eagerly waiting to see whether the new administration will break away from the ugly past and robustly attack corruption, or whether impunity and the shielding of allegedly corrupt officials will persist.”
CENTAL said its recommendations to the new government are based on “global best practice and the past experience of anti-corruption campaigners in Liberia.”
Amongst the recommendations presented to the administration, the anti graft group said the new government should “pragmatically” deal with corruption in the public sector.
“Ensure the independence of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and give it direct prosecutorial power to quickly investigate and prosecute corruption cases,” CENTAL wrote in its first of seven recommendations.
It also called for the establishment of a “Specialized anti-corruption courts for prosecuting corruption without delay enact a Corrupt Offences Act to clearly define and provide sanctions for various forms of corruption and enact a Whistle-blower Protection Law to encourage more Liberians to freely report acts of corruption and other integrity-related issues”.
CENTAL also suggests that all public officials, including the President, should be required to declare their assets, irrespective of their positions or connections to superiors in government.
“The government must independently verify and publish these declarations of assets,” it added.
CENTAL recommendations to the CDC-led government also include, timely reviewing and impartially implementing reports and recommendations by integrity institutions, and establish dedicated committees and bodies for investigating fraud and other forms of corruption.
It also suggests the audit of the legislature “just like any other branch of government or institution that receives public funds,” while also calling for the audit of the 52nd and 53rd legislatures and any recommendations from the audit report fully implemented.
At the same time, CENTA is calling for increase financial support to integrity institutions and enable them to properly function.
In addition, those appointed to key positions in government should be of impeccable character; willing and committed to serve in the best interest of the people rather than to acquire illicit wealth, it said.
“The culture of impunity and shielding of alleged and proven corrupt officials must be abolished. The President must generate the necessary political will to prosecute officials accused of corruption and the abuse of public resources.”
The government must also work to establish a safe and secure environment for anti-corruption agencies, civil society organisations, media and other advocates.
The current space for constructive engagement between stakeholders should be maintained and broadened further in order to consolidate efforts against corruption.
CENTAL has been a key partner in the fight against corruption in Liberia and wishes to remain constructively engaged under the new administration.
The organisation will be tracking the government’s progress on the areas outlined above.