Corruption Is Economic Crime - Sayeh


By: Lewis K. Glay

Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted February 1, 2006


Liberia’s first postwar female Finance Minister- designate, Antionette Sayeh has termed corruption as an “economic crime” that must be fought to demand international trust and respectability.

Dr. Sayeh said this long standing practice has been endemic thereby retarding the country’s economy terming it as an injustice to the rest of Liberians whom she noted normally suffer the consequence.
The Minister designate made these statements last Friday at the Capitol Building when she appeared before a 15-menber senate committee for confirmation hearing.

She named directing leadership economic policy, managing available resources, working with International Monetary Fund (IMF), financial monitoring program and a clear cut fiscal economic system as top priorities to be pursued once confirmed.

Practically, Dr. Sayeh said setting the nation’s economy upright means all segments of government including the Legislature have to collectively work with sincerity and in unison to change decadence of sustained financial malfunction in the country.

She bluntly told the committee that to overhaul the spoiled system there is a need for time to review and revive the system aimed at avoiding the mistakes of the past leaderships whom she observed hastily made policy statements on crucial financial matters only to see these practices slipping back into the system.
Dr. Sayeh who disclosed that she had worked at the Ministries of Finance and Planning and Economic Affairs in the late 1980s, said government needs to down size its workforce but as a sound economist, conditions have to be created in terms of redundant packages for those to be affected.

According to her, salaries will have to commensurate with competence, qualifications and job titles of employees to entice civil servants who will be in the employ of government.

On the question of salary disbursement for civil servants, who in the past have been constrained to come to Monrovia for pay, she said government has to work out modalities for banking institutions in the country to extend branches to leeward counties in time to come to tackle the problem.

Commenting on the role of GEMAP, the Minister designate told the committee that managing the nation’s resources to benefit the Liberian populace in terms of revenue sharing without undue advantage being enjoyed by a minority group would demonstrate to Liberia’s international partners about the need for a cessation of the Governance Economic Management Action Plan.

Putting in place better financial system, she said, could also encourage multilateral and bilateral creditors to wave the nation’s huge debt burden accumulated over the years. Stock taking on commercial ventures too she noted must be taken into account to get importers of commodities aware that they do not underestimate taxations regulated by government.

Satisfied with her deliberation on series of questions from the senate committee on Ways, Means & Finance, the minister designate was later discharged and informed to be in readiness to reappear if the need arises.

The committee is headed by Bomi Senator Richard Devine with its members including Senators Hannah Brent (Mont.) Roland Kaine (Margibi), Blamoh Nelson (Grand Kru), Mabutu Nyepan ( Sinoe), Daniel Nathens (Gbarpolu) Nathaniel Innis (Grand Bassa) and Isaac Johnson (River Gee). Others are John Barlon (Maryland) Saye Adolphus Dolo (Nimba), James Momo (Grand Cape Mount) Fumba Kanneh (Lofa) and George Moore (River Cess) respectively.

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