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Friday, July 19, 2024

UP GOVT’S TRUST UNDERMINED AGAIN: CENTAL HIGHLIGHTS PARALLELS BETWEEN CURRENT PROCUREMENT AND PAST CONTROVERSY

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MONROVIA, LIBERIA – The Unity Party government, under President Joseph Boakai, is eight months into its administration and already facing significant criticism over transparency and accountability. The Center for Transparency and Accountability (CENTAL) has highlighted questionable deals, including the controversial procurement of 285 earth-moving machines, raising concerns about the government’s transparency in its procurement processes.

At a press conference held on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at its headquarters in Sinkor, Monrovia, CENTAL Executive Director Anderson D. Miamen expressed deep concerns. “Like the road contracts, the Liberian Government is violating her own established procurement, due diligence, participation, and other processes in procuring goods, services, and works,” Miamen stated. He emphasized the troubling nature of these violations, especially from a government that portrays itself as experienced in leadership and governance.

Miamen drew parallels to a previous controversy involving over US $20 million worth of road contracts awarded by the Ministry of Public Works under Minister Roland Giddings without competitive bidding. The Ministry admitted to procedural errors and apologized to the Legislature. However, CENTAL sees a similar trend in the procurement of the earth-moving machines, further undermining trust in the government’s commitment to transparency and the rule of law.

The situation was exacerbated in May when Liberian lawmakers pardoned Public Works Minister Roland Giddings for his mishandling of $22 million intended for road rehabilitation. The decision to forgive Giddings, despite his admitted procedural errors, has sparked outrage and highlighted a perceived disregard for accountability among lawmakers.

Critics, including political commentators and civil society organizations, have voiced their discontent. Mr. Morris Swen, a vocal critic, emphasized the need for the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and other organizations to hold Giddings accountable. “The actions of the Senators must not go unchecked, and the Liberian people must demand better from their elected representatives,” Swen stated.

The Boakai administration’s handling of these controversies has raised serious questions about its commitment to fighting corruption and ensuring transparency in public office. As the administration continues to face scrutiny, the call for stronger accountability measures and adherence to established procurement processes grows louder.

The controversy over the procurement of the earth-moving machines is not just a domestic concern but has also caught the attention of international observers and development partners. These stakeholders have expressed their unease over the lack of transparency and due diligence in the procurement process. The potential involvement of businesses with vested interests in Liberia only compounds these concerns. If transparency issues persist at this stage, it could significantly impact future investments and international relations, potentially stifling economic growth and development.

CENTAL’s revelations come at a crucial time when Liberia is striving to rebuild and strengthen its institutions. The organization’s call for adherence to procurement laws and procedures is a reminder of the importance of institutional integrity in fostering sustainable development. Miamen’s insistence that the government respect the rule of law and ensure proper procurement processes is not just a critique but a call to action for the administration to live up to its promises of good governance and accountability.

However, political commentators say the Boakai administration’s response to these criticisms will be pivotal in shaping public perception and international confidence in Liberia’s governance.

As CENTAL and other watchdog organizations continue to monitor government actions, the administration’s ability to address these issues transparently and effectively will determine its credibility. The government’s handling of these procurement controversies will serve as a litmus test for its commitment to combating corruption and promoting a culture of accountability and transparency in Liberia.

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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