At the launching of the National Anti Corruption Strategy (NACS) His Excellency the President Ernest Bai Koroma has disclosed that immediately the draft bill of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) would have been passed into law he will be the first person to declare his assets.
During the programme which was hosted at the British Council Auditorium, the President said that the draft bill will be tabled in Parliament in two weeks time after which he will publicly declare his asset not only to fulfill his campaign statements but also to send a message to his cabinet and whole executive about the need for them also to do likewise.
In launching the NACS President Koroma said that when he was sworn into office he committed himself to the fight against corruption as widespread corruption hinders development and prevent investors to enter the country.
He stressed that widespread corruption attracts foreign investors who seek to make fast money and benefit themselves easily.
He maintained that a country with high level of corruption seeks to have low rate of investors and development and that petty corruption benefit few at the expense of many.
The launch of the NACS for 2007-2013, President Koroma said is a clear manifestation of his commitment to the menace.
Speaking about the ACC Act the President revealed that he would work very hard to see the drafted bill passed by parliament stating that this bill will give the ACC more power to fight freely, since the lack of prosecution by the ACC is not helping the cause.
He stated that he is going to make sure that he separates the two offices to allow the commission work effectively.
The President averred that drafting the bill does not mean the end of the struggle but the beginning of the fight and so therefore he called on all Sierra Leoneans “to come together and join in the fight because it is only when we are together we can succeed.”
In his statement the ACC Commissioner Abdul Tejan-Cole said that corruption has been cited as the major cause of our decade old war in the country, and if the menace is not arrested it will cause a major setback for the development of the nation.
Due to widespread corruption in the country the commissioner said “Sierra Leone has been regarded as the poorest despite the fact it is endowed with lots of natural resources”
On the strategy, the Commissioner Tejan-Cole stated that it was formed to address the menace of corruption and it is only when the commission has the power to prosecute that it can carry out its work effectively.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice Serry Kamal in his remarks stated that corruption is ancient as well as a modern phenomenon, it is local as well as international and it contaminates the local fabric.
The 2000 ACC Act he went on demonstrates the legal will to remove the menace of corruption.
He added that several prosecutions both at the local and high court had been made though there are still many short falls in the fight and that the major one will be to eliminate corruption. In her opening remarks the Chairperson of the occasion Jamesina King said the launching is a landmark event as this will show the commitment of the government towards fighting corruption in the country. The Human Rights Commissioner maintained that, Human Rights views corruption as discrimination against human rights as it hinders development.
She stated that it is incumbent on the government to fight corruption by looking at the salary scale of the public sector and that businesses should also engage in this fight.
By Betty Milton