US Deeply concerned About Pervasive Graft in Liberia
By Rancy S. Teewia
United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, has expressed the concern of his government over the existence of “ingrained and pervasive corruption in Liberia.”
“As the Liberian public is well aware, the U.S. government is deeply concerned about corruption globally and, especially here in Liberia,” Ambassador McCarthy emphasized Tuesday when he delivered the opening remarks at a press roundtable event at the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia.
The U.S. envoy stated that Liberia as a country free of hurricanes or typhoons or other natural disasters, unlike Ethiopia and other countries, but has plentiful and dependable rainfall with a bounty of resources, has been held back by man-made plague, which he described as rampant corruption.
He said corruption has been a part of the Liberian society for over 200 years, like FGM, adding that once corruption is a fully established way of doing business, it is very difficult to remove.
“And before anyone draws a conclusion that I am favoring one political party over another, or one administration above another, let me be perfectly clear, corruption in Liberia is far too ingrained and pervasive to pretend it could be that isolated, “ diplomat McCarthy stressed.
He narrated that Singapore, with only 270 square miles of land, virtually no natural resources, and with a population almost the same size as Liberia’s, had a reputation in the early 1960s as one of the poorest, most corrupt countries in Asia.
However, he indicated that Singapore’s per capita Gross Domestic Product in 1960 was US$428, but Singapore is now one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, and their per capita Gross Domestic Product in 2022 had risen to US$82,794, in comparison, Liberia’s per capita Gross Domestic Product in 2022 was US$630.
“How did this happen, did they win the lottery, was it by chance or coincidence? No, one of the primary reasons for the phenomenal success of Singapore is that they decided corruption would no longer be accepted as a normal part of life,” he explained.
Envoy McCarthy further observed that the only way Liberians will dream of a better country is where the labor regulations are enforced uniformly without prejudice, and not for personal manipulation or political gains; where all legislators appropriate funds to a Ministry without the expectation of kickbacks.
“One where all Ministers negotiate on behalf of what is best for the country, not on the basis of what funds are being paid directly to them; one where public appropriations are distributed as the legislature directed them and not in a random or weaponized fashion determined by individuals.
“One where schools have no ghost employees and are supplied with the actual number of teachers on their payroll; one where donated medicine is actually available free of charge to the poorest of the poor in public health facilities throughout the country.
“Liberia can be this country, just as in Singapore, it is within the power of the Liberian people to make this happen. You can do it,” Amb. McCarthy indicated.
The United States Government has been supportive in helping Liberia to fight corruption over the years.
It can be recalled that in 2022, the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three Liberian’s government officials.
The Treasury Office sanctioned Nathaniel McGill, who was the Minister of State as well as Sayma Syrenius Cephus and Bill Twehway who were Solicitor General and Managing Director of the National Port Authority respectively for their involvement in public corruption in Liberia.