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Healthcare Cannot Be A Privilege

About two years ago a stomach ulcer attacked me. I vomited blood profusely and many who witnessed my ordeal felt it was my end. Many of my friends were shocked and some even suggested that I seek medical assistance in Ghana or a western country. Interestingly, I had faith in the Liberian healthcare system and I survived. Knowing Dr. Lawrence Sherman and Dr. Ian Paps-Garnon was a blessing. They are two Liberian medical professionals that have shown commitment to their work and have deep understanding of the Liberian healthcare delivery system.

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Declare Your Assets or Leave Public Service

After stalling for over 2 years, exacerbated by failure on the part of the National legislature to pass the Code of Conduct for Public Officials that includes declaration of assets, the President endorsed a bold initiative by the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC) that all public officials declare and publish their assets. Subsequently, the President mandated all officials in the Executive to declare and publish their assets by September 30th. The President’s position was accentuated at several press briefings and interviews where she abundantly assured the public of her renewed commitment to combating corruption in the country.

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Corruption will always be with us – but?


Corruption will always be with us. This is a straightforward perspective and not based on a pessimistic inkling but a reality that we all have to endure. We all have the inclination to wake up or go to sleep with thoughts that border on societal progress or devilish promptings that influence our communities. We may aspire to live in a world free of corruption where there is unhindered enjoyment of the niceties of life, but will this ever happen with the uncertain socio-economic and political future that citizens in countries like Liberia face. Humans have the proclivity to carry on acts that are self-promoting, and corruption is one of those acts that are self-promoting over the collective interest. Individuals enrich themselves at the expense of entire communities left to linger in abject poverty – lack of adequate healthcare, education and infrastructure.

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Open Government and Its relevance for Liberia

In July 2011, I joined representatives of several governments and civil society organizations in Washington DC to inaugurate the Open Government Partnership (OGP).  Governments invited represented those that had made some efforts to inform their citizens about public transactions (revenue and expenditure operations) and fight corruption.  From Africa, officials and leading civil society organizations from Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa and Liberia were invited.  I was elated that Liberia was invited – not just as a spectator, but also to share experiences on work undertaken to improve citizens’ participation and access to information.    I was placed on a panel moderated by the renowned governance expert Daniel Kaufman to share Liberia’s civil society experience and participation in charting the path of openness in Liberia.  Deputy Minister of Finance for Revenue, Elfreda Tamba sat on another panel to share efforts to foil revenue leakages and increase revenue for Liberia.

 

Why was Liberia chosen to participate in that meeting? For obvious reasons, that was a question that prodded my head as I traversed the list of assembled participants.  Our public sector is corrupt and there is little will to implement laws.  Despite support to build capacity and resuscitate the economy, the economy is gradually being hijacked by special interest allowing public officials and their collaborators wealth, while poverty reduction remains in doubt.

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Police and the nagging issue of bribery

Transparency International in its Global Corruption Barometer for 2010 listed Police globally as being linked with petty bribery. Liberia was highlighted as top in bribery globally and the police was ranked highest in bribery amongst Liberian institutions surveyed. The Liberian Police despite numerous reforms enjoys very limited public confidence, as they are prone to many acts of corruption.

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