2018
Anti-Corruption Commission, Sierra Leone, we believe in communication, accountability and transparency.

THE IMPACT OF BRIBERY ON NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

News Item

By Mariama Navo

We have in our country a common enemy, an adversary that is not as selective as we may want to think. Its victims include even those who cuddle it yet with a dead conscience they make it thrive. This enemy goes beyond our political differences, tribal make up or religious beliefs.  It is bribery.

 Bribery is our national enemy and we ought to see it as a battle that must be fought collectively not just for ourselves but for our generations yet to come. Like powerless and unarmed fire fighters we look on almost willingly as bribery destroys our beloved Sierra Leone. Those who pamper it still fan the flames and help spread the fire even wider.

We must decide as a nation that we want to get better infrastructural development, public service delivery and have public officials who conduct themselves with integrity. Bribery is corruption and corruption deprives us of all things developmental. Corruption is the first enemy of democracy. It eats away the rights of simple citizens and decreases development.  The simple citizen has a role to stop bribery because the effects of bribery are experienced by all at one time or the other.

Bribes can take many forms and can occur in many different fields. Some of the more common instances of bribery include: bribery of Witnesses in Court, bribery of a Public Officials, bribery of doctors bribery or even Foreign Officials

The effects of bribery are long and coming and they can be classified under the following headings.

Economic: In Sierra Leone the economic environment could have been much accommodating better if there was no threat of corruption and bribery. Bribery is a big impediment to direct foreign investment and it is a fact that bribery and corruption are a growing menace that has the potential to adversely impact the national economic growth, and image of Sierra Leone in the world.

 Political:  Political performance based on incentives is a strong catalyst to bribery and deprivation. Communities that have little political connections are most likely going to bribe their way in order to benefit from adequate public services or infrastructural development.

Infrastructural:  Short term gain, long term pain is a typical characteristic for bribery. Bribery skews the level of the playing field, attracts less capable and inefficient persons / organizations to execute projects thereby leading to increase in the cost of operations, poor performance and poor public service delivery.

In order to curb bribery, as a nation we must adopt the following preventive mechanisms:

·        Draw up a comprehensive code of conducts for civil servants and ensure strict enforcement of the code communicating zero tolerance towards corruption.

·         A structured whistle blowing mechanism to report potential bribery / corruption issues to the Anti Corruption Commission

·         A comprehensive and periodic risk assessment mechanism, including third party audits with specific reference to corruption related risks and, regular monitoring mechanism in all Ministries Departments and Agencies.

In Sierra Leone, like many other corrupt countries, corruption has shifted development in spite of all the valuable natural resources we have. Potential employers take bribes from applicants, policemen and custom officials take bribe, road safety officials take bribe from reckless or unauthorized drivers, government auditors and tax assessment officers take bribe, teachers award undeserved grades to certain students. Corrupt practices are not limited to the public sector it is evident even in the private sector.

However, there is hope that the prevalence of bribery and corruption will be minimized with the enforcement of the Anti Corruption Act, 2008 which clearly outlines corruption offences and punishment forthwith.