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ACC blames government institutions    for MCC failure

NOVEMBER 20, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Head of Public Outreach Unit at the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has blamed government institutions and agencies for not doing enough in the fight against corruption in the country, insisting that the Commission was doing everything possible to tackle corruption, albeit it has to grapple with stiff resistance from public workers. She added that such attitude was the reason Sierra Leone has twice missed out on selection by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and that the phenomenon should be a major concern, not only to government, but the citizenry.

Madam Glennis Frazer said it was disheartening to note that Sierra Leone has for the second time failed to be eligible for the MCC grant due to corruption, adding that although the ACC has put strategies in place to address corrupt practices, yet people take or give bribe for services rendered by government officials.

For a country to be eligible for the whooping MCC grant, it must pass key indicators, including commitment to democratic governance, investments it its people and economic freedom.

According to the latest MCC report, Sierra Leone failed 12 indicators, at the top of which is the very crucial corruption indicator (45%). The country also failed in governance effectiveness (34%), Access to credit (27%) Land Rights and Access (27%), Child Health (2%), Natural Resources Protection (45%), and Fiscal Policy (31%).

The country, however, passed a number of other indicators: Health Expenditure (54%), Regulatory Quality (58%), Trade Policy (56%), Immigration Rates (62%), Girls Primary Education Completion Rate (60%), Gender in the Economy (100%), Political Rights (87%), Civil Liberties (87%), Freedom of Information (81%), Business Start Up (69%) and Rule of Law (53%).

This latest failure by Sierra Leone means the Ebola stricken nation might have lost the opportunity to use the lucrative MCC grant to rebuild derelict infrastructure to turn around the lives of its six million inhabitants.

As expected, the anti-graft body is unhappy about the development, ironically few weeks after a Transparency International index gave the country a favourable score on corruption.

“We are not happy because we have again lost the MCC as a result of corruption, the Commission is working assiduously to fight corruption in the country and we have made so many gains over the years. In fact, currently, we have developed the new National Anti Corruption Commission  Strategy which well guide us in our fight, we also have our public outreach officers who have gone across the country to reach out to people  and engage them on issues about corruption,” Ms. Frazer said.

She added that: “However, Ministries, Departments and Agencies have a lot to do in the fight against corruption. We still have our own challenges because corruption in this country is plenty; this is not all about the ACC because we in the Commission cannot fight corruption alone. For example if you go to the Immigration Department or the identity card department you will see situation that will force people to engage in corrupt practices. I will blame these institutions for not doing enough in fighting corruption. Some are working but they need to redouble their efforts,” she said.

Deputy Minister of Political Affairs, Karamoh Kabbah, said he was in agreement with the anti-graft body that the country has failed to adequately address corruption.

“When I was Director of the Political Affairs Department, I used to hire the services of qualified Sierra Leoneans to go from one ministry to another to explain to them about the MCC and its benefits to Sierra Leone. We even engaged the then Minister of Political Affairs, Alpha Kahn, to travel to the United States to engage the MCC Board members; that actually helped the country to reach certain status,” he claimed, adding “but another entity took that responsibility from us and later we did not succeed.”

He described Sierra Leone’s latest MCC failure as “a big blow to us as a country” and urged for collective resolve to fight corruption.

Meanwhile, the MCC Board is expected to meet on 10 December to select eligible countries for developing large-scale compacts and smaller threshold programmes it would fund.

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