Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf Raises Alarm Over Deep Corruption In Liberia

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 14, 2004

The Standard-Bearer of the Opposition Unity Party and Chairman of the Good Governance Reform Commission, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has spoken out against the alarming rate at which corruption continues to spread in Liberia, saying that the culture of kleptocracy is undermining the little commitment that is left to the nation public service.

In her keynote address to the Liberian National Bar Association first quarterly assembly of 2004, held at the Law Library on Ashmun Street, Central Monrovia recently, Madam Johnson-Sirleaf said corrupt practices are visible in every sector of the government and indicated that people are required to buy lunch or pay for stationery and supplies to receive basic services in certain ministries or agencies. According to her, corporate bodies conforming to the law in making tax payments by checks are told to change to cash payment.

The Good Governance Reform Commission Chairman told the National Bar Association that “under the so-called common practice, some legislators and their operatives require nominees for public offices to pay a fee to go through the conformation process”. She indicated further that importers and suppliers have no alternative but to make on the side payments to clear their goods or process their documents, adding “even litigants have to pay illicit money to receive judgment or justice in the court. Madam Johnson-Sirleaf said some lawyers are said to have won the prominence they enjoy today by the sizes of their envelopes to some judges to secure judgment in their favor.

Speaking on the topic ”Transition from War To Peace prospects And Challenges”, the Unity Party flag-bearer said, “we need a successful program of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and resettlement - - the DDRR program -- which will enable our children who had been forced into arms, who have been robbed of their childhood and youth to return to the schools and training programs that will make them productive, constructive citizens. The same applies to the thousands who have been made refugees and internally displaced.”

Speaking further, Madam Johnson-Sirleaf said, the nation current economic situation is even worse. She added, our natural resource endowment has deteriorated with partial exhaustion of major iron deposits. Rubber plantations throughout the country have aged and are subjected to careless and illicit exploitation while forest resources are also being depleted due to unchecked exploitation.”

She said as a change to economic order, we need to formulate an economic vision-the determination of economic goals consistent with national endowment and regional and global dynamic, saying that Liberia and its people have the potential. She noted that “A large portion of our mineral resources remain unexplored and unexploited and there is still time to introduce control and conservation measures to forestry operations.”

Speaking on good governance, Madam Johnson-Sirleaf said that this is critical to the process of achieving our economic social and political aspirations - those measures essential to achieving sustainable growth and development. The overriding objective of good governance is to strengthen the capacities of governments to manage the development process effectively and to create an environment that promotes individual creativity and collective responsibility in civil society. Good governance has several dimensions.”