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Thursday, 10 August 2023 15:51

Request for External Auditor

Written by

 

August 1, 2023

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL

TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR AUDIT OF CENTAL

1.  Introduction

CENTAL, hereafter referred to as the “Cooperation Partner” wishes to engage the services of an audit firm for the purpose of auditing the National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) or "Liberia Anti-Corruption Integrity Programme’, as stipulated in the agreement between the Cooperation partner and Sida. The audit shall be carried out in accordance with international audit standards (ISA) issued by IAASB[1]. In addition, an assignment according to International Standards on Related Services (ISRS) 4400 shall be carried out. The audit and the additional assignment shall be carried out by an external, independent, and qualified auditor.

  • Qualification of the Firm/Auditor and Key Requirements

The audit shall be performed by a certified audit firm in good standing with the Liberia Institute of Certified Public Accounts (LICPA). Other qualifications of the auditor/firm are:

  • Must have at least two years of experience performing independent and professional audit (s) of key institutions, especially non-governmental organizations, in accordance with the International Standards on Auditing (ISAs).
  • Must be completely impartial and independent from all aspects of management or financial interests in the entity being audited.
  • Must not be employed by, serve as director for, or have any financial or close business relationships with any senior participant in the management of the entity, especially during the period covered by the audit nor while undertaking the audit. It is required that the auditor discloses any relationship (s) that might possibly compromise his/her independence.
  • Must be experienced in applying either ISA or INTOSAI audit standards, whichever is applicable for the audit.
  • And must assign adequate staff with appropriate professional qualifications and suitable experiences with ISA or INTOSAI standards, including experiences in auditing the accounts of entities comparable in size and complexity to the entity being audited.

3.  Objectives and Scope of the Audit

The objective is to audit the financial report for the period 1st August 2022 to 31st July 2023, as submitted to Sida, and to express an audit opinion according to ISA, applying ISA 800/ISA 805, on whether the financial report of the National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption Program or ‘Liberia Anti-Corruption Integrity Programme’ is in accordance with the Cooperation partner´s accounting records and Sida’s requirements for financial reporting, as stipulated in the agreement including appendices between Sida and Cooperation partner (Agreement).

4.  Additional assignment; according to agreed-upon procedures ISRS 4400, review the following areas in accordance with the Terms of Reference below

          Mandatory procedures that must be included:

  • Observe whether the financial report is structured in a way that allows for direct comparison with the latest approved budget[2].
  • Observe and inspect whether the financial report provides information regarding:
  • Financial outcome per budget line (both incomes and costs) for the reporting period and columns for cumulative information regarding earlier periods under the current agreement.
  • When applicable, compare if the opening fund balance[3] for the reporting period matches with what was stated as the closing fund balance in the previous reporting period.
  • A disclosure of exchange gains/losses. Inquire and confirm whether the disclosure includes the entire chain of currency exchange from Sida’s disbursement to the handling of the project/program within the organization in local currency/ies, if applicable.
  • Explanatory notes (such as for instance, accounting principles applied for the financial report).
  • Amount of funds that has been forwarded to implementing partners, when applicable.
    • a) Inquire and inspect with what frequency salary costs during the reporting period are debited to the project/program.

  Choose a sample of three individuals for three different months and:

  • Inquire and inspect whether there is supporting documentation[4] for debited salary costs.
  • Inquire and inspect whether actual time worked is documented and verified by a manager. Inquire and inspect within which frequency reconciliations between debited time and actual worked time is performed.
  • Inspect whether the Cooperation partner complies with applicable tax legislation with regard to personal income taxes (PAYE)[5] and social security fees.

4. a) Inspect and confirm that the unspent fund balance (according to the financial report) at the end of the financial year is in line with the information provided in the accounting system and/or bank account.

5. Procurements:

a) Inquire and inspect whether the Cooperation partner has purchased services or goods above the thresholds in the procurement guidelines annexed or referred to in the agreement. Obtain a list of all purchased services and goods during the reporting period and identify all transactions above the agreed threshold.

b) Select two of the identified transactions above the threshold and determine whether they were subject to bidding procedures and in compliance with procurement requirements, if applicable.

5. The Reporting

The report shall be signed by the responsible auditor (not just the audit firm[6]) and shall include the title of the responsible auditor.

Reporting from the ISA assignment

The report from the auditor shall include an independent auditor’s report in accordance with the format in standard ISA 800/805 and the auditor’s opinion shall be clearly stated.  The financial report that has been the subject of the audit shall be attached to the audit report.

The report shall also include a Management letter that discloses all audit findings, as well as weaknesses identified during the audit process. The auditor shall make recommendations to address the identified findings and weaknesses. The recommendations shall be presented in priority order and with a risk classification.

Measures taken by the Cooperation partner to address weaknesses identified in previous audits shall also be presented in the Management Letter. If the previous audit did not have any findings or weaknesses to be followed-up on, a clarification of this must be disclosed in the audit reporting.

If the auditor assesses that no findings or weaknesses have been identified during the audit that would result in a Management Letter, an explanation of this assessment must be disclosed in the audit reporting.

Reporting from the ISRS 4400 assignment

6. Submission of Audit Report

A minimum of six (6) copies of the signed report will be submitted to CENTAL for further use or publication.

7. Cost of Audit

The audit will be performed for a reasonable amount that will represent/cover all costs associated with the work to be performed. The payment term shall be agreed between the Cooperation Partner (CENTAL) and the audit firm. However, it will be in not less than two installments, with the final payment made following the successful completion of the task and submission of the final report, in line with the TOR.

8. Application Procedure and Package:

All interested qualified applicants are encouraged to email their complete applications/proposals to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a certified copy to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. on or before August 17, 2023, at 11:59 PM local time.  In addition to other documents and requirements, the application package should include the Curriculum vitae (CVs) of the principal of the firm of auditors who would be responsible for signing the opinion, together with the CVs of managers, supervisors, and key personnel proposed as part of the audit team. CVs submitted should include details of audits carried out by the applicable staff, including any ongoing assignment (s) indicating capability and capacity to satisfactorily undertake the task in question.

[1] The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB)

Template decision no:2021-002235  Department: VERKSTOD/JUR  Other: 

Version no: 1.2  Date: 20211110  Other:

[2] The budget is attached to the agreement with Sida as an annex and any updates should be supported by written approval by Sida.

[3] I.e. funds remaining from disbursements made during the previous reporting period/s

[4] Debited salary costs should be verified by supporting documentation such as employment contracts.

[5] Pay As You Earn

Tuesday, 01 August 2023 15:19

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Written by

Monrovia, Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the media, fellow Liberians and development partners.

As we move closer to the October 2023 elections, CENTAL urges all Liberians, especially ordinary citizens to thoroughly examine those who seek their votes for elective offices –President, Vice President, Senator, and Representative. Anti-corruption and Integrity should be the main qualities required of candidates/those seeking your support/votes.  Corrupt and greedy politicians will dash your hopes when elected. So, be very careful who you trust with your precious votes during these elections. Support/Vote only for people who do not steal or have proven to have Integrity.

Fellow Liberians, on July 28, 2023, the Coalition for Democratic Change - CDC- named her Campaign Team for the ensuing October 2023 Liberian Elections. Atty. Garrison Yealue, Chairman of the Governance Commission - GC - was named as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Administration. CENTAL is deeply concerned about this development.  The appointment of Atty. Yealue does not only contravene the law but is ill-advised and counterproductive to good governance efforts in Liberia. As we all are aware, the Governance Commission has had a history of playing a very critical role in reviving our democracy by promoting good governance in Liberia. This institution has had some of Liberia’s best brains as heads, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr. Amos Claudiaus Sawyer, (deceased), and others, who managed to ensure that they and the institution stayed neutral during heated political periods.

The action of the CDC violates several provisions of the 2007 Act creating the Commission, which is required to be independent and politically neutral. Also, the decision violates the 2014 Code of Conduct for public officials and its amendment of 2022. This is an extremely troubling decision that should be immediately reversed, to avoid rendering the already dormant and underperforming GC unworthy of the trust and confidence of the public and development partners whose engagements and partnerships with the Commission are indispensable to her success.

Section 2.2 of the 2007 GC Act states; ‘’the Commission shall be an INDEPENDENT body of the government. It shall be financially autonomous, Operationally Independent, and generally free of undue influence from any source, in pursuit of its mandate.’’ The Independence of the Commission is reinforced by Section 5.3.4, which states; ‘’ thus Commissioners must be non-partisan to prevent the governance agenda and process from being a political one.’’  Additionally, Section 5.1 of the Code of Conduct states that “all officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not engage in political activities… [or] serve on a campaign team of any political party or the campaign of any independent candidate.”

We are, therefore, not only astonished by the latest decision of the Party, which undermines her own government’s anti-corruption and good governance agenda, but are also dismayed at the acceptance of the appointment by the said official. For a government underperforming at all levels on key governance indicators, especially Liberia’s 26 score and gross underperformance on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, it should endeavor to win the trust and confidence of the public and development partners. The latest decision of the party and government does not help such a cause. This is more than troubling, especially for the head of such an institution that should know better and lead by example.

In a March 7, 2023 statement published on the Governance Commissioner’s website welcoming her newly appointed Chairperson, among other things, the Commission asserts that Mr. Yealue brings experiences from three branches of government and that the commission ‘’will lean largely on his experience to rebrand the institution and lead reform processes across the public sector.’’ CENTAL fully agrees that the Commission desperately needs such rebranding, as it has been engulfed by gross underperformance and in-fighting among commissioners on one hand and among commissioners and some staff on another hand.

Unfortunately, the contrary is what the public has witnessed since his ascendency to the chairmanship of the once revered and enviable Commission that promoted meritocracy, led by example, and set other high standards in the public sector.

In multiple posts and videos on Facebook, Mr. Yealue can be seen/heard engaging in active campaigns and or political activities in Nimba, in flagrant violation of the Act creating the institution. Instead of rebranding and uplifting the commission, its decline is increasingly evident, much to the disappointment of many, especially campaigners of good governance. If key development partners have been staying away from the Commission, the latest action of the government and CDC does little to salvage the situation. Instead of helping, it will further dampen the chances of the commission getting financial, technical, and other support from development organizations for any substantive work. Who wants to do serious business with an institution that should be independent and politically neutral, when its head is into active politics?

In conclusion, we call on President Weah and the CDC to remove Mr. Yealue from their campaign team, as it sends a very bad signal to the public, development partners, and even staff of the institution who are supposed to be politically neutral, especially policy experts that are supposed to advise the national government on what independent and evidence-based policy directions the country should take. The sooner the Government and CDC did this, the better it will be for their reputation, the independence of the Commission, and the much-needed rebranding of the institution that has been largely dormant since 2018.

As we have also seen other government officials abusing their offices by actively engaging in political activities and misusing government assets in the process, we call for the immediate cessation of such practice, as it creates an unequal playing field for electoral activities in the country. Using government-assigned properties for political activities disadvantages others, when all political parties and candidates should be using their own assets and resources for political activities. Unfortunately, the President is yet to appoint the Ombudsman designated by law with responsibilities over such issues. This is disappointing, to say the least. We reiterate calls for President George Weah to make an appointment to the office of the Ombudsman to oversee all matters related to violation of the Code of Conduct for public officials and other related laws and policies.

Lastly, we call on citizens, the media, and civil society to closely watch and report corruption, abuse of incumbency, and other acts that will undermine the freeness, transparency, and fairness of the October elections. Let’s engage and play our required roles in ensuring that the first post-war elections to be managed entirely by Liberians are satisfactorily conducted, in full compliance with relevant Liberian laws and election-related global best practices.

Signed:

Anderson Miamen

Executive Director

0886818855/0776391481

Commitments and Cautions: CENTAL Gathers Feedback from Citizens During Awareness Around New Corruption Reporting App in Liberia

In the fight against corruption, all hands are needed on deck. And this is why, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), through the Ant- Corruption Innovative Initiative, is harnessing the collective energy of ordinary citizens, who feel the most pinch of corruption to report anonymously any act of corruption. The initiative is being supported by the government and people of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) via the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),

“We will do our best to use the app to report corruption when we see it. We will not close our mouths when we see corruption” said Eric Dunn, a resident of Wyne community, Harlandsville, Grand Bassa County, during an engagement meeting.  Under the initiative, a mobile application called ‘TALKAY’ has been developed to provide citizens the platform to report corruption allegations anywhere in Liberia without disclosing their identities.

It is a red, white, and blue-colored mobile application that allows citizens to send reports of corruption to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in real-time. The LACC then investigates the report and takes appropriate action.

Jerryline

In Grand Bassa County, during an engagement with students at the Salvation Army Dorathy Knightley School, Atty. Bendu Kpoto, CENTAL’s Legal Officer explained that corruption comes in different shapes and forms including misuse of entrusted powers for personal gains. With a specific focus on the effects of corruption, Jerryline T. Wonde, CENTAL’s Youth Engagement Coordinator, lectured a cross-section of street vendors in the City of Buchannan on how corruption destroys the future of young people and denies them opportunities for growth. And Siafa S. Kamara, of the Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC), advised against soliciting bribes.

“One of the surest ways to succeed in the fight against corruption is to address the salary disparities in the civil service”, said Johnson William, head of the Police Detachment of Grand Bassa County at an engagement meeting held at his office. Also, Daniel Willie, Assistant Superintendent for Fiscal Affairs, applauded the initiative and expressed his commitment to help spread the word. He warned that despite the fact that the app is one of the best ways to reduce corruption, its success in the public sector will be reliant on political will and commitments from higher-ups in government.

For his part, Jerry E. Brooks, Mayor of St. John City blamed the pervasiveness of corruption on inadequate budgetary support to critical organs of the government including the City of St. John. He admonished CENTAL to include Advocacy for increased support to key government agencies in future programs. “When incentives are given, corruption will be minimized”, he stated.

If the views espoused by stakeholders including Mayor Brooks, Police Commander Williams, and Assistant Superintendent Willie are anything to go by, the war against corruption will be won when public service is adequately incentivized. And that the national budget working for few members of the legislature, as contained in CENTAL’s budget paper, and leaving the vast majority of the citizenry to stay in poverty and neglect must be a thing of the past.

PRESS STATEMENT

Monrovia, Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen of the Press.

This Week marks another important period in Liberia’s history in terms of speaking truth to power and advocacy for good governance, accountability, and transparency in society, especially in government/public service. We have reassembled in this space to civilly and constructively discuss matters bordering on the economic and political governance of Liberia. We are doing so with the level of cordiality, sincerity, robustness, and passion required to speak truth to power and seek redress to trending and ever-present critical national issues, Corruption being a leading one. The media has been a critical partner and a mainstay in Liberia’s Democracy. Thank you for all that you do for Liberia and Liberians, especially the many hundreds of thousands of people out there who are basically surviving/struggling to live due to successive poor and corrupt national leadership in Liberia.

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) welcomes the recent statement of the United States Ambassador to Liberia, Ambassador Michael A. McCarthy on the state of decentralization and how the national budget has been manipulated to serve the interests of those who control power.

There can be no better affirmation of recent reports issued by CENTAL detailing how the national budget is being used as a tool for corruption and how decentralization has been reduced to a political token rather than a deliberate effort to devolve power and resources from the central level in Monrovia to counties and communities on the periphery. Indeed, not only does the Ambassador’s statement reflect courage, it transcends any actual or perceived diplomatic boundaries for the good of the Liberian people. We see that the disservice meted out against the Liberian people by their own leaders is so great that it cannot be overlooked by our international partners, Ambassador McCarthy in this instant case. Surely, the American engages as a true Liberian patriot and campaigner for good governance and true decentralization. Even as corruption brazenly has its way, Ambassador McCarthy faces the odds and speaks truth to power. The question is: when will we, Liberians, engage our democracy and governance as true patriots wanting the best for the country and its people? When will leaders truly lead, selflessly, accountably, and transparently? And when will citizens satisfactorily live up to their civic duties?

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, in January of this year, CENTAL shared the results of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2022 released by Transparency International. There is a further decline in Liberia’s score on the index from 29 in 2021 to 26 in 2022, an unfortunate 15-point decline since the score of 41 in 2012. This is corroborated by CENTAL 2022 State of Corruption Report (SCORE 2022), which reveals that 90% of Liberians think the Corruption level is high in the county, with declining confidence in the executive branch of government to fight against corruption, from 30% to 26%. Findings of the US Ambassador’s recent trips to the counties, as contained in his recent statement to the public shed further light on how corruption continues to deprive Liberians of access to crucial services, as a few Monrovia-based power brokers binge on public funds with no pricking of conscience. And while the Ambassador identified county-level challenges, it is important to note that ‘ghost allocations’ are not only akin to entities in the counties. Spending entities in Monrovia have themselves complained that in addition to budgetary allocations not covering essential activities and operations, they are hardly received in full.

Our budget paper released last month entitled: ‘Making the Budget Work’ goes at length to lay bare the problems with our budget process and how addressing them is critical, if the budget must truly work for the people.  Key themes covered include public participation, overspending, failure to report, budget corruption, misplaced priorities, decentralization, etc.

For example, we identified seven (7) spending entities that spent more than what was allocated in the 2022 national budget. Over $35,810,406 was spent without legislative approval. Unapproved spending does not only raise questions of diligence applied during budget preparation, it also fuels suspicions of corruption. Since public expenditures must meet legislative approval through the budget, spending in excess of amounts approved by the Legislature raises significant concerns. This is coupled with the fact that contrary to law, reports on how budgetary allocations are used are not available, thereby making it difficult to follow public spending. Regarding decentralization, we highlighted that the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) continues to get the lion’s share of allocations to political sub-divisions. While counties receive a meager $219,333 in 2022, the MCC received $7,501,678 in direct budgetary allocation and through the Public Sector Investment Program (PSIP). The Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) received $2,249,23. These cities receive astronomically more than entire counties, raising questions about how decentralization is expected to work.

Members of the Press, on budget corruption, our report indicated that public officials continue to use the national budget to their own advantage. For example, the E&J Hospital in Ganta, Nimba County was built and owned by Senator Jeremiah Koung. Senator Koung has claimed that the facility has been turned over to the government, but no documents have been disclosed in this regard. As a private business, E&J received close to $1 million United States Dollars through the national budget. Besides, the African Dream Clinic, owned by Representative Samuel Enders has benefitted US$95,000 from the national budget through subsidy. The fact that a lawmaker’s clinic is included in the national budget, in the midst of limited support to government-owned hospitals and clinics speaks volumes. In 2021 and 2022, $3.6 million was allocated each year for 'legislative engagement' amid public outcry. The amounts were distributed to each lawmaker in portions of $30,000 per year. The recent outcry against Representative Marvin Cole regarding the diversion of funds meant for a clinic in Gbondoi Town in Bong County is another example.

CENTAL is deeply concerned about the perennially mindboggling neglect of the citizens by their elected and appointed national leaders. This extremely unfortunate development has to stop, if the people must truly and measurably benefit from the resources and other assets of the country. We call on national leaders, especially the President and Lawmakers to forge collaborations that placed citizens at the center of their engagements and decisions and not otherwise. In part, they should make the national budget Work for the people by adequately funding educational, medical, agricultural and other agencies and institutions directly serving the needs of the public.

We wish to conclude with the following recommendations, which if fully implemented will help to make the national budget and other resources work for the people.

  1. The Liberian Government should reduce funding to the President, Vice President, Speaker, and other high political offices and redirect those resources to activities and programs in health, education, and other sectors that will directly benefit citizens.
  2. The Liberian Legislature should be robust in performing its duties. Although highly disappointing in its performance, the Legislature still remains the Agency of Government responsible to provide the necessary oversight in safeguarding public resources and assets. It should do so if it must be regarded as truly representing the people and not itself.
  3. We applaud development partners for their tireless support in strengthening democracy and accountability cultures in Liberia and urge them to continue doing so, at an even greater scale. A blended support and engagement that sees development partners not only providing financial and technical support to civil society, government, and other institutions but also openly commending and criticizing major developments in Liberia is welcomed and or is pursued.
  4. We admonish civil society and the media to increase and diversify their engagements to educate the public, checkmate the national government as well as monitor and report on the development and implementation of the national budget and other key national policies and documents.
  5. Public Integrity Institutions such as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission should be adequately funded and robust in their engagements and performance of their duties. For example, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission should enforce laws on Asset Declaration and ensure timely investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.
  6. Finally, as Liberians, we have a greater responsibility to ensure that our leaders are held accountable. Development partners cannot do for us what we ought to do for ourselves. Therefore, Liberians should stand up and demand accountability from their leaders at all times. As the October elections draw near, let us summon the courage to engage all those seeking our votes for their visions and practical actions in dealing with corruption and making our resources work for all.

Thank you.

Signed:

Anderson Miamen

Executive Director

0886818855/0776391481

Friday, 17 March 2023 18:27

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Written by

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Friday, March 17, 2023

Monrovia- Distinguished members of the Press. Thank you so much for your continuous collaboration with CENTAL in the fight against corruption in Liberia. We strongly rely on the support of your various media outlets to succeed in weeding out corruption and bad governance and promoting transparency and accountability across all spectrums of the Liberian society.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are pleased to formally launch a report containing an analysis of budgets from 2016 up to and including the draft 2023 national budget, which has now been approved by the Liberian Legislature albeit with some changes. This is part of efforts to independently track and mainstream accountability and transparency in the national budget process so that it works for everyone and not a selected few individuals and groups.  The report follows a careful review and analysis of the draft 2023 national budget, the budget process, as well as expenditures.

Additionally, it covers media tracking and monitoring visits to selected locations, Gbondoi Town in Bong County for example, to gather firsthand information from residents on budget performance and impacts. The report places a spotlight on efforts to make the budget process more transparent and inclusive, development projects and programs, underfunding of integrity institutions, and discrepancies in allocations and actual expenditure. Others include disparities in allocations to cities, 'zero budgeting', and recommendations for making the national budget more transparent, inclusive, and impactful.

As you may be aware, in every country, the national budget is the principal financial tool used by the government to drive development, the same being in Liberia. The budget outlines programs and allocates resources based on revenues generated from taxes and other external sources.  

Because of the significance of driving development in Liberia, over the years, CENTAL has developed a keen interest in the budget process, especially with respect to how transparency, accountability, gender, and integrity are mainstreamed. We run an open expenditure program, funded by Sida and the Embassy of Sweden in Liberia, which goes beyond the publication of budget figures to investigate how allotted resources are disbursed and actually expended. In part, this entails assessing transparency and accountability around recruiting companies/contractors to perform certain services, citizens’ involvement in such processes, in the case of the County Social Development Funds (CSDFs) and other projects, and whether or not the resources actually reach the target beneficiaries. Articles, reports and other analyses related to this program can be found on our budget portal:https://www.liberiabudget.info as well as our official website: www.cental.org.lr.

Our analysis points out a few positives, which are worth noting. We applaud the government for making appreciable efforts to make the budget process transparent and participatory, although much more is needed. Doors are beginning to open for the institutionalization of meaningful public participation in the budget process.

There are two notable initiatives in this regard: Fiscal Transparency Advocacy Group (FTAG) and Pre-budget consultations. The FTAG was inaugurated on 19 July 2022 with the mandate to select, design, and implement public participation mechanisms in relation to the budget process. It is comprised of an equal number of representatives from civil society and government who have been working to make the budget process more participatory and inclusive. As part of the initiative, pre-budget consultations for the formulation of the 2023 budget were held with over 300 representatives of CSOs and other citizens in 5 counties.

Also, civil society organizations developed a shadow budget, which was submitted to the government with a focus on prioritizing citizens’ interest in the budget process. This adds to other efforts, including publication of the draft budget by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to allow citizens and other stakeholders to gain access to make informed decisions. Additionally, huge allocations to the National Elections Commission for the upcoming general and presidential elections; a relative increase in support to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and General Auditing Commission; 2.5 Million to the Ministry of Education to abolish registration fees charged at public schools are all laudable.

However, there are major issues, including corruption and abuse of power that continue to make the national budget less impactful to citizens. The willpower is still not strong enough to make the national budget satisfactorily work for all, especially ordinary citizens and those living in remote parts of the country. The perennial issue of underfunding of public integrity institutions, discrepancies in allocations and actual expenditure, misapplication of budgeted resources, huge disparities in allocations to cities, 'zero budgeting', and undue prioritization of certain offices, especially those occupied by politicians as opposed to sectors and institutions with direct impacts on the lives of ordinary citizens. 

For example, over the last few budget years, over 80,000 USD has been allotted for a Health Center in Gbondoi Town in Bong County. However, the resources have not reached the people, neither are residents of the town aware if they had such resources in the national budget. The funds were diverted by Representative Marvin Cole of Bong County to Kpayah Town Clinic in his district, a clear abuse of power and misapplication of budgeted resources. This is a classic example of how policymakers use the national budget to their own advantage, at the expense of others and the population, more broadly.

On funding to the transparency sector, CENTAL observed that the sector is expected to receive increased budgetary support, from $42,142,578 in 2022 to $55,404,476 in 2023. However, much of the increase goes to the National Elections Commission to support the October general and presidential elections. This is welcoming, as Liberians need to support and take ownership of their own elections. Sadly, institutions leading the fight against corruption and promoting integrity-building efforts are given visibly less attention. This is concerning, particularly since offices of politicians continue to receive more than adequate support. For example, while the allocation to the PPCC in 2023 is put at $819,600, the Office of the Speaker is allocated a whopping $2,075,702, the Office of the Deputy Speaker a mind-boggling $1,292,196, and the Pro-Tempore a lavish $1,995,358. Upon further scrutiny, one realizes that the combined allocation to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker alone exceeds combined allocations to entire entities such as the PPCC ($819,600), (LEITI) $403,627 Independent Information Commission ($226,275), and the Financial Intelligence Unit ($1,410,114). We also note the unfortunate decrease in funding to the PPCC, Independent Information Commission (IIC), Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), and the Liberia Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI).

In the areas of decentralization, it was observed that power and resources remain concentrated at the national level, while cities and counties in the rural parts partake in crumbs. A comparison between the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and other cities does well to place this issue in the proper context. In 2022, the city of Monrovia received $5,305,457 in direct budgetary allocation, and $2,196,221 through the Public Sector Investment Program (PSIP), totaling $7,501,678. Also, in the 2023 draft budget, $4,528,311 is allocated to the city of Monrovia, and $1,500,000 is allocated through PSIP, totaling $6,028,311. These amounts are exclusive of municipal taxes and other revenues generated by the city. Meanwhile, a contiguous metropolitan city and one of the largest cities, the city of Paynesville, receives far less than the city of Monrovia. Allocations to the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) remain $1,499,231.28 and $750,000 for PSIP, totaling $2,249,231.28. In fact, only these two cities are directly featured in the budget. This reality is disturbing, to say the least.

In conclusion, we wish to make the following recommendations as critical pathways to making the national budget citizens-driven, more inclusive, transparent and impactful. In this regard, the national government should do all it can to ensure that the national budget works more for citizens. The need to mainstream transparency and accountability throughout the budget cycle cannot be overemphasized.  Recently initiated budget consultations must continue and be expanded to budget hearings at the Capitol Building. Civil society organizations and experts as well as communities should be invited to provide valuable inputs to shape the budget drafting, review, and approval processes. Hearings must remain open and not held behind closed doors. Citizens must closely monitor the budget process and make their voices count by directly and indirectly making the necessary suggestions to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the process.

Most importantly, there is a need for quarterly expenditure reports as required by the Amended and Restated Public Financial Management Act. These reports are cardinal if citizens must follow the money. Additionally, Audits must be conducted regularly to safeguard public resources, while there is an urgent need for public integrity institutions to be prioritized by giving them adequate support to deliver on their mandates. Lastly, we encourage civil society, the media, citizens and other stakeholders to thoroughly review the national budget, discuss its contents on national and local radio and other platforms as well as closely monitor spending entities to determine whether or not budgeted resources are being/have been used for the intended purposes.

CENTAL wishes to thank the Embassy of Sweden in Liberia and the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency for funding its Open Expenditure Initiative, which has made this report and analysis possible. Also, we like to thank our many donors and partners, including citizens whose support and motivation have sustained our work over the years. We recommit to remaining constructively engaged with the governance process and meaningfully supporting anti-corruption, integrity-building, fiscal transparency and other well-meaning efforts in Liberia.

Thank You.

Signed: Management.

Thursday, 02 March 2023 15:01

CENTAL Trains Security Sector Actors on Anti-Corruption

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Monrovia, March 1, 2023 - One major way to end the corruption scourge in Liberia is by ensuring that public sector employees act in the public interest by being honest, transparent, and accountable. And this is why, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) through its Executive Director Anderson Miamen and Program Manager, Atty. Gerald D. Yeakula on Tuesday, February 27, 2023, facilitated a training session of law enforcement personnel on anti-corruption at the offices of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA).

The session, organized by the LDEA International Visitors Leadership Program Alumni Association, brought together security personnel from the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Liberian National Police, the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), the Liberia National Fire and Rescue Service, the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency and other institutions. “As law enforcers and public servants, it is incumbent upon us to be accountable. We just couldn’t keep to ourselves what we learned from the IVLP program”, said Special Agent Chris M. Curtis President of the LDEA IVLP Alumni Association. 

CENTAL honored the invitation based on her continued commitment to the fight against corruption, in part through forging mutually benefiting partnerships to build capacity and mobilize the needed support among diverse stakeholders and groups.

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Executive Director Miamen drilled the officers on mainstreaming anti-corruption values in the security sector as well as understanding Civil Society Organizations and their roles in the democratic space, especially in Liberia. He also reminded the participants of the delicate nature of their work and the growing demand for transparency, accountability, and good governance.

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Program Manager Yeakula lectured participants on understanding what constitutes corruption, its various types and forms, international and national laws and policies governing the fight against Corruption as well as strategies and tools to deal with corruption.

Friday, 24 February 2023 09:49

CENTAL Takes TALKAY Awareness Campaign to Nimba County

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Monrovia, February 23, 2023 – Corruption takes many forms. Increasing citizens’ awareness and reportage about the act and other forms of corruption through an innovative approach has been at the core of outreach activities of CENTAL in Nimba County. CENTAL in partnership with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Integrity Watch Liberia and the Accountability Lab Liberia with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is conducting awareness around a corruption reporting innovation in Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bomi, Gbarpolu, and Montserrado counties.

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The effort places whistleblowers in direct and secure contact with the LACC through the TALKAY platform. Those using the mobile app and website to file complaints would be able to send reports and attach multiple files (video, audio, document etc.) with an option to remain anonymous or not. Once sent, an automatic generated reference number that can be used to follow up on the report.  All reports submitted using either the web app, mobile app or SMS go to large screens dashboards at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in real-time. The LACC then investigates the report and takes appropriate action. Once actions are taken, the system updates based on the action taken and those filling reports can track the status of their report using their unique ID numbers issued when they submitted their reports.

“We the disabled people in Nimba County have been longing for our voice to report corruption because we have been afraid of what might happen to us after we have reported”, said Nenlay G. Doe, Chair for the Nimba Disabled Community. “But with the assurance of guaranteed protection and confidentiality”, she continued “we will now begin to report acts of corruption as we see it without fear. We are happy that we now have a platform to report about things that affect us as a people-all thanks to CENTAL and her partners for this initiative”, said Madam Doe.

Several marketers who converged at the Liberia Marketing Association office in Sanniquellie City, first expressed their individual opinions about corruption and then quizzed the outreach team on benefits of the innovative approach. “Although, we are all happy that we now have a platform to report corruption, we must only report only what we hear and see but not lies”, Winifred Guah, head of the Liberia Marketing Association Nimba Chapter, cautioned her fellow marketers.  

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Jerryline Wonde, CENTAL’s Coordinator for Integrity Clubs, espoused the need to elect leaders who would make policies that ensure equal access to basic social services for everyone including people with disabilities.  But this, she said can only be achieved when everyone joins together to fight corruption.

“Corruption only benefits few and robs the larger population of what they deserve like basic social services”, Peter N. Dolo says. Dolo is Executive Director of Community Solutions Aid, a local advocacy group in Bong County, Central Liberia. If Dolo’s statement is anything to go by, then the poverty and lack of basic services in the country can rightly be linked to the menace of corruption.

In Liberia, allegations of corruption are rife. In the 2022 State of Corruption Report released by CENTAL, 90 percent of those surveyed indicated that the level of corruption in Liberia is high. Liberia has also reached its all-time low on the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, scoring 26 out of 100. But despite these alarming statistics, whistleblowing, which remains an important tool in preventing and detecting corruption and other malpractices, has been discouraged by inadequate protection for whistleblowers, amongst others. 

The government of Liberia through the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has partnered with the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia CENTAL, Integrity Watch Liberia and the Accountability Lab Liberia to deliver a corruption reporting tool and ramp up awareness around the tool in Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Gbarpolu and Montserrado counties on implementation of an Anti-Corruption Innovation Initiative. Under the initiative, a mobile application called ‘TALKAY’ has been developed to provide citizens the platform to report corruption allegations anywhere in Liberia without disclosing their identities. This effort places whistleblowers in direct and secure contact with the LACC. Those using the mobile app and website to file complaints would be able to send reports and attach multiple files (video, audio, document etc.) with an option to remain anonymous or not. Once sent, an automatic generated reference number that can be used to follow up on the report will be received.  All reports submitted using either the web app, mobile app or SMS go to large screens dashboards at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in real-time. The LACC then investigates the report and takes appropriate action. Once actions are taken, the system updates based on the action taken and those filling reports can track the status of their report using their unique ID numbers issued when they submitted their reports.

In Bong, CENTAL has kicked-off awareness activities around TALKAY with Nimba, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Bomi to follow. Like many other counties, Bong County is suffering the effects of corruption. Already, the county is feeling the pinch from the menace. The County’s account, which holds the county development funds has had a moratorium placed by the national legislature over allegations of mismanagement of previous funds. This has in a way, hamstrung the provision of some basic social services for the people. “Through this initiative, we are hoping to turn the history of this country around to one that uses its resources and taxes to develop the country”, said, Madam Bendu Kpoto, Legal Officer at CENTAL, during an engagement session with students of the Dolokelen Gboveh High School. 

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Madam Kpoto rallied the students to utilize the mobile app, the 4419 SMS service, 4432 call-in service to report any act of corruption. This, she said, will allow for the delivery of basic services like health, education, and infrastructure development. Arthur Bono, Bong County Chapter Chairman for the National Union for the Disabled pledged to make use of the application and other services to report corruption issues because of the current effects it is having on members of his organization. 

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Also, members of the Bong Athletic Social Intellectual Center, an intellectual forum promised to use the app and other platforms to flag corruption issues. Because of the significance of this initiative in the fight against corruption, Peter Dolo, recommended that government of Liberia and its partners increase education about innovation, increase protection for whistleblowers, and ensure speedy prosecution of corruption cases. 

Saturday, 11 February 2023 11:14

Disclaimer On Use of CENTAL Materials

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On Thursday, 9 February 2023, a video circulated on social media in which a young Liberian is seen pulling down publicity materials of government officials and politicians at the Capitol Building, the official seat of the Liberian Legislature. The young man is also seen wearing a t-shirt marked by the logos of CENTAL and Transparency International as well as the flag of Sweden, which funds our work through Sida. While CENTAL rallies citizens to take actions against corruption as well as promotes active citizen-participation in the democratic process, we wish to clarify that the action of the young Liberian was not carried out under the auspices of CENTAL. Further, he is not an employee of CENTAL and did not receive any instruction from CENTAL regarding his actions at the Capitol. 

Signed: Management  

Tuesday, 31 January 2023 13:12

Press Statement for Immediate Release

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Press Statement for Immediate Release

Rising Public Sector Corruption in Liberia, as President Weah Presides Over Liberia’s Worst Ever Score/Rating on the CPI

Monrovia, Tuesday, 31 January 2023

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) is pleased to release the findings of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2022. Since 1995, the Corruption Perception Index has been scoring and ranking countries based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived, according to experts and business executives. The score ranges from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), where 0 equals the highest level of perceived public sector corruption and 100 equals the lowest level of perceived public sector corruption. 180 Countries were targeted in 2022 as in 2020 and 2021.

The CPI draws upon 13 data sources, which captured the assessment of experts and business executives on a number of corrupt behaviors in the public sector. These corrupt practices and behaviors include bribery, diversion of public funds and supplies, use of public office for private gain, procurement irregularities, state capture, and nepotism in the civil service. Also, some of the assess mechanisms available to prevent and address corruption in a country. Examples include the government’s ability to enforce integrity mechanisms; independence of anti-graft institutions; the effective prosecution of corrupt officials; conflict of interest prevention; access to information; freedom of speech and the media, and legal protection for whistleblowers, witnesses, journalists, and investigators.

Global Highlights:

The CPI 2022, released today by Transparency International mainly focuses on the link between Corruption and Insecurity/Conflict. CPI 2022 shows that most of the world continues to fail to fight corruption: 95 per cent of countries have made little to no progress since 2017. In other words, the fight against corruption has stagnated worldwide at a time when conflict and insecurity abound and human rights and democracy are also under attack. This is no coincidence. Corruption enables human rights abuses and fuels conflict and insecurity. Equally, ensuring peace and security and basic rights and freedoms means there is less space for corruption to go unpunished.

The global average remains unchanged at a score of 43 out of 100 for the eleventh year in a row. Denmark (90) tops the index this year, with Finland and New Zealand following closely, both at 87. Strong democratic institutions and regard for human rights also make these countries some of the most peaceful in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. Meanwhile, South Sudan (13), Syria (13) and Somalia (12), all of which

are embroiled in protracted conflict, and remain at the bottom of the CPI. 26 countries – among them, Qatar (58), Guatemala (24), Liberia (26) and the United Kingdom (73) – are all at historic lows this year.

The highest-scoring region is Western Europe with an average score of 60. The lowest-scoring region is Sub-Saharan Africa (32). The 32 average score of Sub-Saharan Africa shows a bleak picture of inaction against corruption in the region, as governments are doing very little to deal with the culture of impunity.

Regional Highlights and Trends:

In 2022, the Corruption Perception Index shows a decade of stagnating Corruption levels amid insecurity, human rights abuses and democratic decline in Sub-Saharan Africa. Progress is stalled, while over 90 per cent (45 of the 49 countries surveyed on the continent) score below 50. The Sub-Saharan Africa average is 32, the lowest in the world. In the last decade, 43 countries in the region have either declined or made no significant progress.  Since 2012, Botswana (55), Liberia (26), Mali (29) and South Sudan (11) have significantly declined on the CPI.

 

With a score of 70, the Seychelles earns the highest mark in the region, followed by Botswana (60) and Cape Verde (60) as distant second-place holders. Burundi (17), Equatorial Guinea (17), South Sudan (13), and Somalia (12) are the region’s worst performers. Some significant improvers over the last few years include Seychelles (70), Senegal (43), Ethiopia (38), Tanzania (38), Kenya (32), Côte d'Ivoire (36) and Angola (29).

Although no country is free of corruption, countries topping the CPI share characteristics of open government, press freedom, strong parliament/legislature, civil liberties, and independent judiciary. Meanwhile, countries at the bottom are characterized by widespread impunity for corruption; poor governance; and weak institutions, including but not limited to parliament/legislature and anti-corruption and integrity institutions.

Liberia’s Score and Performance:

From 29 in 2021, Liberia has dropped by 3 points to 26 in 2022. This further cements the country’s position as one of the biggest decliners on the CPI, dropping by a massive 15 points from 41 in 2012 to 26 in 2022. The country now ranks 142/180 and remains further down the table, joining the list of countries significantly declining on the CPI. Worldwide, with the exception of Saint Lucia that has dropped sixteen (16) points, only Liberia has fallen fifteen (15) points since 2012. Also, in West Africa and the Mano River Union, Liberia is the only country that has declined by 6 points over the last five years. Since the country attained her highest score of 41 in 2012, it has been in free-fall on the CPI, topping the list of countries with stagnated and declining anti-corruption efforts, much to the disappointment of many. This is corroborated by CENTAL 2022

State of Corruption Report (SCORE 2022), which reveals that 90% of Liberians think Corruption level is high in the country, with confidence in the executive branch of government to fight against corruption declining from 30% in 2021 to 26% in 2022.

CENTAL is extremely concerned over Liberia’s continuous poor performance, especially her place among the Worst Decliners globally. In part, this speaks to the Liberian Government’s inability to address the entrenched culture of impunity by adequately funding public integrity institutions, fully enforcing existing anti-corruption laws and policies, and taking drastic actions against hi officials accused and investigated for corruption. Importantly, this year’s poor result should serve as a wake-up call to the President that his efforts are not good enough, as they have only taken the country backward in its anti-corruption drive. Liberians have heard more words and promises from the President and other public officials than genuine efforts in the fight against Corruption in the country. This has to change if the country’s extremely disappointing performance has to be reversed. Massive improvement in score and performance, and not stagnation and further decline, is what the country needs, going forward.

Recommendations:

Improvement is possible, but only when the necessary corrective measures are instituted. Like other countries that registered remarkable progress and improvements over the last decade, Liberia can climb the CPI ladder, surpass its 41 scores of 2012, and outperform other countries. However, this can be achieved if President is Sincere about his desire to tackle the entrenched culture of corruption, especially in the public sector. 

We recommend the following additional actions/measures:

  1. That President George Weah leads by example and pursues a sincere and holistic fight against Corruption that does not protect certain individuals and groups accused and investigated for corruption, especially his confidantes.
  2. Public Officials accused and investigated for corruption should be prosecuted and made to face the full weight of the law. Strong administrative actions from the President are also needed to deter corrupt behaviors in and out of government.
  3. Government anti-corruption agencies must be fully funded and given adequate moral support.  The independence and sanctity of integrity institutions should also be maintained by the President and his government.
  4. That issues bordering on governance and accountability take center stage in the Weah-led administration to give citizens and development partners confidence in his anti-corruption efforts and hope for a better Liberia.
  5. That the Legislature be robust and independent in playing its role, ensuring that priority is given to anti-corruption and governance issues.
  1. The Legislature should open itself up for a financial audit, as one of the single biggest receivers of taxpayers’ monies in Liberia.
  • Finally, civil society, media, ordinary citizens, and other actors should remain active and constructively engaged in national efforts against corruption.

Signed:

Anderson Miamen,

0886818855/0776391481

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LOCATION

22nd Street, Sinkor
Tubman Boulevard
Monrovia, Liberia
Phone: +231 88 681 8855
Email: info@cental.org.lr
Website: www.cental.org.lr 

 

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