On Tuesday 13 August Vice President of Sierra Leone Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh launched a five-year National Anti-Corruption Strategy at an event that was witnessed by the European Union, members of the International Community, Civil Society groups and other stakeholders.
Dr Jalloh said the document aims at confronting corruption which he described as a threat to every sphere of national development. The document will also build ethical and accountable governance that promotes zero tolerance for corruption; inspire integrity and adherence to the Rule of law.
The European Union representative, Mr Mats Liljefelt (Head of Cooperation) in his speech on behalf of the EU explained how social cohesion is jeopardised by corrupt practices and how basic trust and hope is squandered where corruption prevails.
"As EU, we are pleased that the Government has not only declared the fight against corruption a national priority, but that this has already yielded significant results.
We all know that corruption not only exacerbates inequality, that it drains scarce public resources and access to basic services, that it undermines Democracy, the legitimacy of institutions and the Rule of Law. Corruption is also damaging to a country's image, and once a country is perceived as corrupt, the corruption label takes time to wash off. Sierra Leone can simply not afford this. Actually, no country can afford this.
Corruption attracts those we don’t want to come and it scarce off those who we need. Organised crime seeks corrupt environments where it can flourish, whereas serious investors tend to avoid these environments. Corruption is, therefore, often mentioned as one of the main obstacles to setting up businesses in developing countries, and hence an obstacle to growth especially in Africa. Corruption may not deter unscrupulous investors, but credible and serious investors will often decide to seek other investment destinations if confronted with an unpredictable investment environment or one that would compromise the company's integrity and compliance obligations. Corruption vis-à-vis investors can take many faces. Sometimes it is "in your face" when politicians or officials drag their feet to issue licenses or to make payments if these are not facilitated by a bribe. But so called "requests for sponsorship" or requests to divert company assets to be used to the benefit of an official or politician with decision-making powers is equally problematic.
Economic development and jobs in Sierra Leone, therefore, depend very much on the fight against corruption. Creating a suitable business climate for the country cannot be achieved without tackling corruption. To us as EU, this is particularly important since we are working hard to attract European private investments to Africa.
Social Cohesion is jeopardised by corrupt practices. Corruption make you pay for what should be free or makes you pay more for what should cost less. It therefore harms the least fortunate among us. Basic trust and hope can, therefore, be squandered when corruption prevails.
The EU welcomes the unrelenting efforts of the ACC to turn the tide. But real success cannot be the responsibility of the ACC alone, but requires the cooperation of all segments of society. It will not only require investment in robust systems that increase transparency and reduce opportunities for corruption, but also that these systems are enforced. It will also require sustained efforts to change attitudes and perceptions. The anti-corruption drive should be seen non-partisan and balanced – if such is the case it can have a truly transformative and enduring effect that would no doubt have a significant impact on Sierra Leone's image, and generate goodwill both internally and externally.
With these words, I like to express our support for the fight against corruption and wish you full success in the implementation of the 4th National Anti-corruption strategy."