UNDP Resident Representative in Liberia, Mr. Stephen Rodriques, is urging the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to accelerate efforts in the fight against corruption in the country.
During a meeting with the Chairman of the LACC at the One UN premises, the UNDP Representative commended the Chairman for his courage in taking on the huge responsibility of leading the LACC. He also congratulated the Chairman on the results achieved from his first few months in office, and the strong message that the LACC has sent that it means business.
The UNDP Representative also stressed that the actions of the commission should send a clear signal to the public that Liberia is committed to upholding the principles and values of transparency, accountability and integrity during the stages of arrest, investigation and prosecution in corruption cases.
“The Commission, like all the other integrity institutions including the General auditing Commission (GAC), must name and shame perpetrators. The average citizen should not feel that the fight against corruption is selective and that some cases are being covered up, or that some people are above the law. The fight against corruption must be done in a manner that builds public trust and confidence,” said Rodriques.
The UNDP Liberia Resident Representative encouraged the chairperson of the Commission, Counselor Edwin Martin, to lobby the legislature for more budgetary allotment to enable the LACC to undertake its mandate fully.
In noting the inadequate funding for the four main Integrity institutions, Mr. Rodriques stated that, “If this is such a critical issue for Liberia, then legislators must see the need to invest adequate resources to fight against corruption, which is undermining the government’s efforts to develop the country,” he said.
He also called for a collective approach to tackling corruption, emphasizing that the LACC should build partnerships, and leverage civil society organizations to help decentralize its processes and achieve nationwide impact.
“To attract more resources from development partners like UNDP, the work of the LACC must reflect visible results, impact and successes on a larger scale,” Rodriques stressed. UNDP is currently partnering with the LACC on a new Anti-Corruption initiative.
He pledged the commitment of UNDP to support the fight against corruption.
The LACC Executive Chairperson Counselor Edwin Martin saidhis administration’s approach in tackling corruption is through constructive engagement with a focus on naming and shaming, investigation, prosecution and public awareness.
“We are not here to move on the same path as our predecessor. LACC is the watch dog of the state and we intend to go beyond the mark,” said Cllr. Martin, citing examples of the handling of three corruption cases including those at the National Port Authority (NPA) and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) by the commission.
He said since the Commission began investigations into these corruption cases public officials are now taking precaution even in the procurement processes.
“When you selfishly misapply resources intended for the benefit of the people and the country, you deprive citizens of the services needed to improve their lives and livelihoods – access to jobs, roads, water, power and other basic social services,” Counselor Martin noted.
He expressed appreciation to UNDP and other development partners for continued support to the Commission and reaffirmed the LACC’s commitment to fighting corruption in the country.