President George Weah and Cabinet Yet to Declare Assets
Monrovia – Nearly a month in the Presidency, President George Weah and his cabinet are yet to declare their assets as require by the Code of Conduct.
Report by Al-Varney Rogers [email protected]
Section 10.2 of the Code of Conduct requires that every public official in the three branches of government must declare their assets.
Over 30 of the appointed officials by President Weah have been confirmed. Notable amongst them are the Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, State, Defense, Education and Public Works amongst others.
Giving his inaugural speech, President Weah assured Liberians that he will end corruption in public service.
“Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people, the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Weah.
President Weah asserted that the most effective way to directly impact the poor and to narrow the gap between rich and poor is to ensure that public resources do not end up in the pockets of government officials.
Anti-Corruption campaigners have stressed that the first step in fighting corruption is for public officials to declare their assets.
Appearing on a local talk show, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) Commissioner, Augustine Toe said it is important that President Weah tells the Liberian people his financial worth.
“When President Weah declares his assets, he will send a strong message to the Liberian people that he is committed to fighting corruption, Cllr. Toe stated.
“We call on the President and the incoming government to show their commitment to this fight by declaring their assets,” Toe said.
Prince Nimley, a civil society activist, said President Weah is starting on “bad note” by not declaring his assets.
“In Africa people follow their leader, once the President declares his assets, trust me his ministers will follow,” Nimely said.
Nimely said public officials declaring their assets would inform the ordinary people about those entering government.
“The People will know what their officials have before entering public service and what they acquire while leaving government,” Nimely said.
In 2012, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia declared her assets and liabilities to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and even did so as her administration was coming to an end.
“In an environment of rumors, conspiracy, lies and suspicions, it is important that those holding public office disclose their financial status to the public,” President Sirleaf said.
President Sirleaf through an Executive Order compelled her government officials to declare their assets.
President Sirleaf suspended 46 government officials who failed to declare their assets after fourteen (14) days of their appointments.
Recently, a Local corruption watch group Center for Transparency and Accountability of Liberia (CENTAL) called on 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.
“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 recommendation to the new government is based on “global best practice and the past experience of anti-corruption campaigners in Liberia.”