Giving a background to the PNB, the Senior Public Education Officer made mention of the 2013 Transparency International Afro-barometer survey which stated that 84% of Sierra Leoneans had either paid a bribe to access public services or were asked to pay a bribe for the provision of public services. While in 2014, only 41% of the respondents accepted to have offered a bribe to access public service. He disclosed that Sierra Leone did not receive the Millennium Challenge Compact of $444M because it did not pass the MCC corruption indictor but only succeeded in getting the threshold of $44 million.
Al-Hassan Sesay maintained that this trend became very worrying for the international community; investor confidence was lacking and a reputational risk for the country. He said the PNB was therefore a response to reverse the negative trend of bribery in the country. The PNB he added is being piloted in the Western Area (Rural and Urban), Bo, Kenema and Bombali Districts for an initial period of six months, targeting education, health, water, energy sectors and the Sierra Leone Police. The Senior Public Education Officer disclosed that the PNB is led jointly by the ACC and the Office of the Chief of Staff, funded by UK Government and the Government of Sierra Leone with Coffey International providing technical support.
In his overview of the PNB campaign, Acting Regional Manager North, Umaru Sesay noted, the PNB is an innovative reporting platform where citizens can anonymously report incidents of petty corruption and bribery. The Acting Manager emphasized that the PNB is not a system for investigating people or punitive action, but a data capturing tool allowing the ACC to collect and share data trends with relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). The MDAs he added will use the data to address corruption at source through administrative action or systems reforms. He said the ACC will regularly publish data reports, trends among public services as well as progressive actions taken by MDAs.
The Acting Regional Manager said the PNB reporting platform gives the public an opportunity to register an incident of bribery by calling a hotline number 515, accessing the PNB website or a mobile application in Krio, Mende and Temne. Sesay noted that the recorded data will allow the ACC to monitor public sector corruption trends, and use quantitative evidence to design more effective anti corruption policy and processes as citizens will be able to access civil society animators in towns and villages to register complaints on bribery. He disclosed that after the pilot phase, the PNB may be expanded into new sectors and districts.
Umaru Sesay said, however in the course of the implementation of the PNB, if the ACC finds sufficient evidence against a public officer in the pilot MDAs that could warrant prosecution, that public officer would be prosecuted. “It does not mean that because the PNB is now implemented in the pilot MDAs no prosecution will be meted on its public officers found wanting for corruption offences” he emphasized.
The Manager of EDSA, Engineer Abdul Musa on behalf of his institution expressed appreciation over ACC’s sensitization drive which he noted will enhance public confidence. He admitted that the PNB will improve service delivery and enhance integrity but however warned staff and volunteers to be mindful of whatever they do in the discharge of their duties.
In her statement on behalf of the Manager, Public Relations Officer of SALWACO Madam Rose-Ann Kargbo thanked ACC for educating them on the PNB. She said the PNB will put them on their toes in their interaction with customers. She warned her colleagues to desist from bribery and support the ACC.
Questions, comments and concerns from staff formed part of the interactive sessions.