No end in sight to corruption
By way of reflection, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was established by the government of Sierra Leone to, among other things, checkmate leakages in the management of public funds, thereby promoting accountability in public institutions.
From inception, it was clear that the ACC had an uphill task to tackle the pandemic in a country where poverty remains a cankerworm destroying the consciences and integrity of men and women in our society.
Since its establishment, close to a decade ago, the ACC has scored admirable successes by prosecuting prominent people including government ministers and retrieving monies the criminals had otherwise stolen from government coffers – thanks to the 2008 amended act which now gives the Commission more independence and power of prosecution.
As a test case, recently, the ACC presented to President Koroma a total sum of Le1.8 billion as revenue generated from people convicted of various corruption-related cases by the courts. This explains how corruption has flourished in our society. And it has never abated despite efforts to contain it.
Disappointedly, even with the recent conviction of some government officials including high profile cabinet ministers, corrupt practices involving millions of tax payers’ money continues to exist in government departments as recent revelations suggest.
In other words, as if these convictions have not had any chilling effect on government functionaries and their agents, audit report of certain government ministries are so shocking and revealing that one is at a loss as to whether there is any end in sight to corruption in Sierra Leone.
Report reaching this press spoke of the huge amount of money being embezzled at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation by some contractors in connivance with some ministry officials. But the attitude of the minister in that ministry has not helped matters in the drive to track down the corrupt officials in her ministry.
The same could be said of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Also, corruption is said to be at its peak in the National Revenue Authority (NRA) that caused the recent sacking of top hierarchy officials in that department.
The spotlight is also on the Ministry of Education relating to ghost teachers salaries and the much trumpeted SABABU project.
Again, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources continues to lose millions of dollars to poor management of our marine resources due to corrupt practices while at the local council level the Freetown City Council stands indicted by the public for lack of accountability in the collection and use of tax payers’ money.
It will therefore not be surprising if tax payers in the capital refuse to pay their tax this tax season.
Invariably, weeding out corruption in public institutions is part of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s ‘Agenda for Change,’ which was why in taking up office in 2007 he set out to strengthen the ACC by investing more prosecutorial power in the Commission.
Today, one is proud to say that the Commission can now bite but one cannot shy away from asking if the ACC has bitten deeper into the fabric of our society to serve as a deterrent to corrupt officials in our institutions.
The answer is every man’s guess. But for us at Sierra Express Media, we say more needs to be done. Corruption is still a cancer targeting our development potentials.
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