Despite the stringent measures that have been put in place to fight corruption in the country including the setting up of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), a lot still remains to be done, as the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has done little to weed out the corruption pandemic. The use of the banking system to access civil servants pay-checks was meant to have the good intention of curbing payroll paddling and ghost names on the payroll of the various Ministries and other agencies of government.
The fact of the matter is that the use of the banks has been going on for several years now since the dawn of the Unity Party led administration. But the observation that several civil servants have made is that after standing in long queues to obtain salary payment from the banks, the process often ends up with the banks charging high amount from the meager salary which means that the long lines avoided as during the era of encashment at the Central Bank of Liberia in the past, is today equally inescapable when getting the payment through the banks.
The banking system should have been a forum to easily address the challenge of payroll paddling and ghost-names on the payrolls. Unfortunately while most ministries have resorted to paying their employees through the banks which usually sell the bank books to individual employees concern, and each month verification is made as to whether the person concerned is a bona-fide employees of a Ministry of agency of government it remains doubtful why there should still be ghost names on the payrolls?
The other evidences of corruption in government is the doubt regarding how the large amount of U.S. government's annual economic assistance to Liberia, to the tune of about US$200 million being expended. It can be recalled that during her several courtesy calls on key government officials in the country shortly after taking office to replace the outgoing U.S. Ambassador Madam Greenfield, U.S Ambassador Deborah Malac was often cited referring to her government's annual U.S $200 million economic assistance to the Liberian government as a sign of the continued friendly and historic relations subsisting between the governments and people of both Liberia and the United States.
Indeed our research shows that a large amount of this money is dished out for the implementation of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored projects in the country in several areas including education, health, law reforms, governance, electoral systems, the judiciary and the rule of law, lands, mines and energy as well as building the capacity of infrastructures and institutions. Reports emanating from the USAID headquarters in Washington DC, the American capital are that the implementation of USAID sponsored projects in the country has been permeated with the lack of transparency and that there is a need for financial accountability.
During one of her visits to the United States, Her Excellency President Sirleaf was briefed by USAID officials in Washington about the need for the auditing of companies and institutions in Liberia that have been implementing USAID sponsored projects. In fact USAID also told Liberians that they are in the process of contacting independent auditing firms to begin the auditing process.
This is also an indication that despite the measures put in place by government, there is still corruption in high places in government especially in the area of recruitment of staff and determining the salary structures. In most government Ministries and agencies high salaries have been given to friends and relatives while others more qualified and experienced on the job can hardly succeed in getting their respective names on government payrolls through the civil service agency. This, again, is nepotism and sectionalism which are elements of corruption.
We are urging government to do more in ensuring that the several reforms process that are going on to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in Liberia should be taken seriously. The Public Procurement and Concession's Commission (PPCC) is one of the institutions whose effective working can save for Liberia millions of procurement dollars meant for the government coffers. Over 70% of corruption cases in Africa involving governments are procurement related. Fighting corruption should be a modern, individual an collective approach.