Liberia: New report warns US$300m could be lost to graft
A new report released by a leading Liberian watchdog group and quoted by WADR has said “more than US$300 million could be lost to corruption and mismanagement if the government of Liberia fails to reform the County Social Development Funds (CSDF) contributed by mining companies.”
The CSDF was established by the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during her first term in office after she won the 2005 post war election.
But in a report issued on Thursday, the local Non Governmental organization, Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) “warns that money paid by mining companies for community development are been poorly managed.|”
Titled, “where is the money?” the report speaks of misuse and mismanagement of public funds, fuelled by lack of transparency and accountability.
The current structure for managing the CSDF has yielded less satisfactory results due to the role of county stakeholders, lack of accountability and transparency in funds management, inadequate capacity to manage projects, lack of grassroots involvement in project selection and decision-making,” the report points out.
Since the CSDF was set up, a series of reports from Liberia’s General Auditing Commission (GAC) have pointed to gross misapplication and in some cases embezzlement of the community development fund running into millions of US dollars. In some cases, the GAC had recommended prosecution for officials allegedly involved but the reports have only gathered dust.
In one of its latest reports on the CSDP in Liberia’s provincial county of Bong, the auditing commission reveals massive misappropriation of the people’s development funds in the tune of US$1.1m.
For its part, the SDI NGO watchdog group outlined the weaknesses and challenges that continue to negatively affect the CSDF.
In its new report SDI cited lack of accountability and transparency; disregard for management and financial controls; inadequate capacity in fund management; limited citizens involvement in project selection and decision- making.
“None of the Cabinet Ministers, confidantes and appointees of the President who have been at the center of controversies surrounding the mismanagement of the County Social Development Fund has been investigated or prosecuted. Instead their conducts have been rewarded with impunity and they continue to occupy high places in government” says Nora Bowier, the author of the SDI report.
There has so far been no reaction from the Liberian government to this new report.
But the Liberian leader President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had in the past said she was determined to vigorously fight corruption, but that the fight was difficult because the practice was “systemic” in the post war nation.