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The current National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), which spans from 2019-2023,provides many corruption prevention drives in a bid to minimize corruption to its barest level. One of the prominent ones is the reviewof systems and processesin Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)in a bid to ensure effective delivery of goods and services in public offices.

Prior to this period, the weak systems in MDAs made the institutions to be prone to many incidences of corruption. In revenue generating institutions like the National Revenue Authority, for example, manual and cash transactions caused the State to lose billions of leones. In some cases, some revenue officers had to face the law although that did not always translate into recovery of funds stolen or misappropriated.

The Francis Ben Kaifala administration was quick to detect these challenges. That is why the instruments that were introduced when he took up office (the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Act 2019 and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2019-2023) seek to address these problems. The vision is to see a corrupt-free Sierra Leone where integrity and systems and processes review mechanisms would prevent and discourage public officials from delving into graft. The benefits are countless.

The benefit of preventing corruption in the health sector, for example, means there would be drugs and other medical items to save lives instead of them ending up on the stalls of private pharmacies and drug stores. Preventing corruption in the judiciary means dispensing justice regardless of financial and other standings. Preventing corruption in the educational sector discourages practices of extortion, sex for grades, bribery; and helps in producing graduates competent enough to contribute to the development of Sierra Leone. Financial resources remain the means by which infrastructural development is achieved. This cannot be possible if those resources are being diverted for personal use.

The intervention of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to build systems and processes in public institutions has brought in many reforms in the MDAs, especially in revenue-generating ones.

In the past three years, the ACC has targeted 30 MDAs to ensure compliance with systems and processes for the benefit of effective service delivery. Among these are the Immigration Department, Freetown City Council, Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, National Revenue Authority, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, to name  a few. We also know about the institutionalization of the Hajj Pilgrimage Policy in the Ministry of Social Welfare which was marred with corruption.

The institution of service charter which describes the cost for services provided by MDAs is one tool the ACC has successfully used to prevent corruption. Unlike before, one can now walk into most of these publicofficesand find the services and their charges on the service charter displayed for all to see. The toll free lines established in some MDAs are also meant to help members of the public make report about the services provided by public offices.

Through the Commission’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy Secretariat, there are now Integrity Management Committees in almost all public sector institutions. These Committees are charged with the responsibility of identifying corruption-related issues in their institutions and escalating them to Management in a bid to address them and prevent a recurrence. 

Another aspect of the Commission’s prevention drive is its massive public education campaigns across the country. The ACC continues to raise awareness on corruption issues through its effective Public Education and External Outreach Department.This has seen the Commission targeting public offices through customized meetings, schools, tertiary institutions and communities across the country.

All these strategies employed by the Commission are in compliance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which emphasizes the urgency for countries to address the risk of corruption by “adopting effective and coordinated policies against corruption”. Its work is not limited to the dispensation of corruption messages but extends to empowering the public with the information needed to discourage bribery, kick-backs for contracts, among others. This has hugely contributed to the massive reduction of corruption, which a national corruption perception survey says reduced from 70% in 2017 to 40% in 2020.

Let me conclude by stating that the Commission, however, still continues to effectivelyput enforcement through investigation and prosecution of persons accused of corruption, in the forefront of the fight against corruption. But as the local adage goes ‘If fowl noryerishee, e go yeri stone’. In other words, where preventive drives cannot prevent people from engaging in acts of corruption, enforcement will surely do.

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