Africa

Feature: Observing Integrity Obligations Is Cardinal For The Pro Poor Agenda

Map of Liberia

Monrovia — Apparent  failure by the five-month-old government in Liberia to keenly observe existing transparency, integrity and legal obligations risks creating  hurdles in the path of its pronounced eagerness to fast track its pro poor development agenda in the  country.

A code of conduct to ensure transparency extracted from the

constitution requires all officials in the three branches of government to declare their assets upon taking up  assignments as well as quitting office.

When former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf tried to enforce this integrity and transparently law enshrined in the constitution, legislators and judicial officials went up in arms saying they would rather declare assets to bodies established in their institutions.

Legislators even exempted themselves from  a cardinal clause which required government officials first to resign before contesting for elected positions. 

They resisted that clause, whose wisdom was to stem misuse of government resources for political aggrandizement, to appointed officials.

Sirleaf and most of her officials then declared their assets to the  LACC (Liberia Anti Corruption Commission).

Flag of Liberia

But five months on in government, President George M. Weah and his officials are yet to declare their assets while he implements quick impact community projects like the Doe community road without expressed budgetary allocation.

After breaking grounds for his flagship 14 military hospital, the President cut sod  for a multimillion dollar Mahatma Gandhi complex center on Bali Island saying Delhi offered to build it. The project will require a flyover to connect Crown Hill with Bushrod Island, but total cost and timeline of these projects remain undisclosed.

Ratification  for a USD 530 million loan agreement with a private company in Malaysia is pending at the Legislature. The money is earmarked for construction of road networks in southeastern counties.

But critics question the company’s creditworthiness saying its repayment term will impose hefty financial burden on Liberia.

“I know one day Liberians will get tired of me, so I want to leave a big mark before that time,” Weah often tell youthful partisans of his coalition for Democratic change. 

Because he wants to say and see it done quickly, Weah believes feasibility studies and competitive bidding at the PPCC impede the fast tracking of his pro poor agenda for a population having very high expectations from their populist President.

Strict adherence to these integrity regulations cannot be overemphasized because they determine a benchmark for international best practice.

After President William Tolbert accused Liberians of having no time for time, he created the Action for Development Ministry under his direct supervision to do quick impact projects.

By Tepitapia Sannah

Contributing Writer

Monrovia, Liberia