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Saturday, July 20, 2024

FOUR-MONTH DELAY IN ASSET DECLARATION: PRESIDENT BOAKAI’S COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY QUESTIONED

Date:

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s recent public declaration of assets has sparked debate among political commentators, critics, and citizens, Socrates Smythe Saywon reports. Although the President’s compliance with the Code of Conduct for public officials by publishing his assets was intended to demonstrate transparency and accountability, many remain unconvinced of its sincerity.

On Thursday, February 8, 2024, President Boakai declared his assets, fulfilling the legal requirement that mandates public officials to disclose their assets upon taking office. This move came after the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) issued an open letter on January 28, 2024, urging the President to lead by example and publicly declare his assets, incomes, and liabilities.

Despite this, President Boakai delayed nearly four months before publicly releasing his asset details on June 21, 2024. This delay has led some critics to question the President’s commitment to transparency. CENTAL’s Executive Director, Anderson D. Miamen, voiced his disapproval on social media, stating that the President should not have needed public pressure to fulfill this obligation, which diminishes the authenticity of his commitment.

In the official press release, President Boakai asserted that the declaration reflected his dedication to transparency, accountability, and ethical leadership. He emphasized that by making his assets declaration publicly available, he aimed to set an example for other public officials and citizens.

However, political commentators like David Menjor expressed doubts about the accuracy and completeness of the published assets. Menjor specifically questioned the modest amounts of cash on hand and in the bank, as well as the declared annual income, suggesting that without rigorous audits, the integrity of the data remains questionable. Similarly, George D. Brooks and Timothy Brooks raised concerns about the President’s declared income and the absence of certain known assets, such as properties believed to be owned by President Boakai.

Adding fuel to the controversy, economic analysts have highlighted inconsistencies in the asset declaration. For instance, the declared real properties and personal properties, which are substantial in value, seem inconsistent with the modest cash holdings reported by the President. This discrepancy raises further questions about whether all assets have been disclosed or accurately valued.

Public reaction has been mixed, with some citizens appreciating the eventual compliance with asset declaration laws, while others remain skeptical of the President’s motives and the accuracy of the reported figures. Social media platforms have been abuzz with discussions and debates, reflecting a populace deeply invested in the integrity of its leadership.

Political opponents have also seized on the delayed declaration as a point of criticism. They argue that true transparency requires not just compliance with the letter of the law, but also a willingness to exceed the bare minimum requirements. This situation has intensified calls for more stringent measures and independent audits to ensure the credibility of asset declarations by public officials.

Below is a summary of President Boakai’s declared assets:

– Net Worth: $970,419.60

– Total Assets: $1.17 million

– Total Debt: $201,500

– Net Worth After Debt: $970,419.60

Breakdown of Assets:

– Cash on Hand: $5,750

– Cash in Bank: $61,295.96

– Real Properties: $766,391.07

– Personal Properties: $212,400

– Other Assets: $126,082.57

Liabilities:

– Debt: $201,500

Net Worth Calculation:

 Assets – Liabilities: $1,171,919.60 – $201,500 = $970,419.60

Despite fulfilling his commitment to asset declaration, the debate continues. Critics like Jesse Mellen find the declared income figure implausible for a President, further casting doubt on the overall declaration.

While the President’s move towards open governance is significant, the scrutiny it has faced highlights ongoing challenges in achieving full transparency and public accountability in Liberia. As the nation watches, the pressure mounts for President Boakai to not only uphold his commitments but also to ensure that future actions leave no room for doubt regarding his dedication to transparency and integrity.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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