16th May, 2023
ACC CALLS SMEDA TO ADOPT STRONG ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURES
The Public Education and External Outreach Unit of the Anti-corruption Commission’s (ACC) Northern Regional Office has on 11th May, 2023 in Makeni, Bombali District, urged the Small Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDA) to incorporate strong anti-corruption policies into its activities for effective and efficient service delivery. The call was made during a Customized Meeting with staff of the Agency at their Conference Room.
Speaking at the meeting, Abdul Karim Bangura, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer in the region, asserted that, the delivery of quality public service is not only on the timely and sufficient supply of resources but, more importantly, on the zero tolerance of corruption and corrupt practices. He explained that, corruption has the tendency to undermine the mandate of public institutions, however ambitious they are.
Mr. Bangura furthered that ACC is readily committed to empowering Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to prevent and control corruption internally, with examining their respective systems and processes to identify corruption vulnerabilities, proffering review recommendations, and establishing Integrity Management Committees among other structural adjustments to enhance transparency and accountability.
The Senior Public Educator also revealed that, the ACC has notched up impressive gains in its extensive and friendly approach of preventing corruption in the public sector through relevant and timely information and education, and monitoring of the implementation of the review recommendations. ‘Consequently, the level of awareness on corruption in the country has spiked resulting in increased public trust in the ACC from 43% in 2020 to 53% in 2022, according the 2022 Afro-Barometer Survey published by the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) in 2023.’
Alongside its efforts to collaborate with institutions and organizations to combat corruption, the ACC has made landmark legal reforms to diminish the occurrence of corruption to its barest minimum for the common good. According to Mr. Bangura, the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act had been amended in 2019 with increased offences and stiffer penalties, among other things – the amended Act states a minimum fine of Fifty Thousand New Leones (NLE 50,000), or a minimum prison term of five years on one count of corruption. Or both such fine and prison term may be slammed by the High Court of Sierra Leone.
In his contribution, Regional Prevention Officer ACC, Lathif Sesay, gave an overview of the importance of reviewing the systems and processes of MDAs. Empowering public sector workers to redouble their performance, reviewing systems and processes of public institutions increases knowledge on the mandate and activities of the ACC as well as enhances collaboration between the ACC and institutions to serve the public, he added. ‘It is therefore important to note that reviewing institutional systems and procedures is in no way a witch hunt,’ Sesay affirmed.
Earlier, staff members of SMEDA were updated on the ACC’s diligence in sensitizing targeted communities in the country on the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) component of the Social Safety Net (SSN) project, which is funded by the Government of Sierra Leone, World Bank and UNICEF, implemented by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA). On several occasions, the Deputy Commissioner of the ACC, Augustine Foday Ngobie, has led such awareness-raising exercises in remote communities to ensure that all grievances or irregularities that may emerge from the implementation of the projects are swiftly and fairly addressed.
Responding to the anti-graft messages, the Regional Coordinator of SMEDA, Mohamed Miojueh, thanked the ACC for its commitment to prosecuting corruption and specially its amiable approach in engaging MDAs to prevent and control corruption. He confessed that he had learned much more about the ACC in the meeting than ever before, and suggested follow-up meetings with the Commission for a strong partnership to combat graft.
SMEDA operates under the Ministry of Trade and Industry and is responsible for coordinating the implementation of development programmes for registered small and medium enterprises across all related Ministries, Agencies and Associations.