- Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf today ordered all ministers and heads of government agencies to weed out corrupt employees saying that corruption still exists in her regime. Ms Sirleaf had promised to come down hard on corruption during her election campaign.
"President Sirleaf has challenged cabinet ministers and heads of government agencies to weed out corrupt employees or be prepared to face the consequences of their inaction," said presidential spokesman Cyrus Badio, who read out Ms Sirleaf's statement.
The presidential spokesman said the order was given to government officials during a cabinet meeting on Thursday. "Despite government's efforts to curtail corrupt practices, there exists a crime syndicate robbing government of its meagre resources," Mr Badio quoted the President as saying.
In her campaign for the presidency earlier this year, Ms Sirleaf promised to come down hard on corruption during her six-year presidential term.
"Corruption under my administration will be the major public enemy, we will confront it, and we will fight it," Ms Sirleaf vowed in her inaugural speech. "Any member of my administration who sees this affirmation as mere posturing or yet another attempt by another Liberian president to play gaily on this grave issue must think twice."
Concerns about corruption in government prompted Liberia's international partners and donors in September to draw up an anti-graft plan known as GEMAP or the Governance Economic Management Assistance Programme.
Ms Sirleaf has thrown her support behind GEMAP under which international supervisors will monitor key ministries and lucrative concerns such as the port, airport, the customs office and forestry commission as well all state expenditure for the next three years.
The Steering Committee overseeing the implementation of the GEMAP which is headed by the President and co-chaired by the US Ambassador to Liberia, said earlier this week that the Liberian government has started its first step against corruption by removing 500 so-called ghost names from its payroll.
Liberia's Information Minister Johnny McClain told reporters on Thursday shortly after the cabinet meeting that the government risked losing US$ 3 million a year through payments to ghost workers - names on payrolls of people who do not exist.
"The Director General of the Civil Service reported to the president and cabinet that there is an urgent need for the government to swiftly act to remove many ghost names from the payroll. By doing this, the government would save US $3 million yearly," Mr McClain said.
"Ghost names are a serious problem for the government's payroll. There are names receiving salaries, but such persons do not exist, while there are others who are receiving salaries from multiple ministries and agencies and are not reporting for work," Mr McClain added.
Under the new post-war short-term development agenda the government made a commitment to downsize what it called the "bloated" civil service, though it fell short of laying out how many jobs would have to go.
Already government workers have begun kicking against the planned downsizing. Jefferson Elliot, president of the civil service association, said workers would resort to a "mass action" if the government cuts jobs without finding alternative sources of employment.
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