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War on bribery!

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Sierra Leone yesterday joined other countries the world over to observe this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day with the global theme: “Now is the time to take action”.

To commemorate the day, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), in collaboration with its partners, took to the streets of Freetown urging people to join the fight against corruption and say no to bribery.

According to the Commission’s Director of Public Education and External Outreach, Shollay Davies, the reason for choosing a local theme titled ‘Say No Bribe Day’ is the fact that bribery has been identified as a major corruption problem in the country.

He recalled that this year Transparency International’s Global Barometer survey report indicated that 84% of Sierra Leoneans interviewed attested to have taken bribe, thereby making corruption a serious issue.

“To combat corruption, the issue of bribery has to be taken into consideration because if we tackle bribery, we can reduce corruption to the barest minimum,” maintained Mr. Davies. “For this year’s commemoration, we decided to involve civil society, the media and government institutions as this will send a message that all of us must take part in the fight against corruption.”

He disclosed that police officers, members of different civil society organizations as well as ACC officials were assigned to certain institutions, and check points where bribery is prone, to preach about the ‘No Bribe Day’.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by Transparency International (TI) yesterday stated that 2013 has been a challenging year in the corruption fight in Sierra Leone. According to the release, the country experienced several incidences of high level alleged corruption cases, including the GAVI Alliance grant, and the National Revenue Authority and Ecobank fraud case.

“In the midst of all these challenges and development, TI-SL firmly believes that much needed to be done to ensure that corruption in the country can be effectively tackled. It is worthy to note that both national and international mechanisms now exist through which countries are being assessed in terms of corruption control,” the released stated.

The organization urged the government to continue to take proactive steps to improve the mechanisms for transparency and accountability in resource mobilization and utilization, and particularly curb corruption, especially bribery within MDAs.

Public officials responsible for the provision of goods and services were also urged to execute their mandate with integrity, accountability and professionalism.