The attraction to government jobs is not necessarily the salary,
but the huge kickbacks often concealed in under-the-table contracts and deals, with millions not accounted for in goods and services.
The President’s Executive Order #38, on paper a revolutionary document, is a total departure from the past and a bold entry into the future, is seeking to end that.
If it is implemented, this would mean that government jobs, over which there are continued bloody contests bearing the seeds of instability, will be less attractive, for there would be nothing to chop under the table.
The Code of Conduct is detailed, touching on issues like punctuality on the job, procedures for releasing government information, work culture, etc. It is a document that should be mandatory reading for all public servants so that there can be no excuse of not knowing what it contains.
Giving and receiving gifts or favours, kickbacks and other entrenched norms, is extensively covered in the Code of Conduct. And for good reasons.
When Mr. Charles Taylor, as President, visited the Kingdom of Morocco and received US1m as a gift from King Mohammed VI, he said it was a personal gift for personal use. That he would have received such a gift as an ordinary, unknown person, did not matter.
All that will now change, and there will be no personal gifts once you are a government official within the Executive.
Officials under the Legislative and Judicial branches of Government are free to take bribes, receive gifts and more, for there is no direct law to hold them.
In the absence of a law that makes bribery and the receiving of private gifts and favours criminal when one is serving as a public official, the President has signed an Executive Order, valid for a time period, that will criminalize bribery and related acts when government officials under the Executive are involved.
The Code of Conduct, as outlined in the Executive Order, is all encompassing. It states, for example, that spouses of public officials cannot receive gifts and favours except they have a direct relationship with the giver that is distinct from that of the public servant.
But the Code is conditional in one area that many believe is the bedrock of corruption in the country, and that is public servants owning and running parallel business as schemes to siphon millions from the government. The Code says:
“Running of Private Business: A public servant in full time employment of the administration shall not engage in the running of any private business that conflicts with her/his official duties or during working hours unless it is established that such activity does not conflict with her/his principal employment.”
Does this mean that a Minister of Finance can run a construction company after hours, since a construction company operation does not conflict with handling state finance?
But if a public servant has interest in other moneymaking businesses, the Code specifies what should be done:
“Disclosure of Interest: Where a public servant has direct or indirect personal interest in a matter being examined, the public servant shall inform the authorities of those interests and shall excuse herself or himself before deliberations are held and a vote or decision is taken.”
In another section, the Code is
“No person whether elected or appointed to any public office, shall engage in any other activity which shall be against public policy, or constitute conflict of interest.
No person holding public office shall demand and receive any other perquisites, emoluments or benefits, directly or indirectly, on account of any duty required by Government;
Soliciting Financial Support for Politics: A public servant, however, shall not solicit financial contributions or any form of assistance from any public agency or office for campaign purposes.
PART VI: DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION AND RELEASE OF CLASSIFIED MATERIALS
a. In ways that are inconsistent with her/his obligations to act impartially.
b. To cause harm or be detrimental to any person or body or the public service.
c. To gain improper advantage for himself or herself or for any other person.
The use of information for improper advantage includes:
a. Speculation in property or shares based on information about government's decision or the affairs of any public or private sector body.
b. Exchanging confidential information with people from other organizations.
c. Taking advantage, for personal reasons, of another person on the basis of information about that person that is held by the employer of the public servant in question.
Providing information from official records to any unauthorized person.
Safeguarding Official Information: A public servant shall maintain a high level of confidentiality regarding communication of official information in accordance with government's policy, the Rules and Procedures of the Civil Service or any other law.
Public speaking: A public servant shall not accept public speaking engagements on matters of government policy which has not been officially released to the public without prior approval from her/his immediate supervisor. S/he shall not at any time make unguarded statements that will^ or could compromise government's policy on confidentiality.
GIFTS, BRIBES AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST
A public servant shall not allow himself or herself to be put into a situation where s/he or he is under obligation to reciprocate a service or benefit when doing so could impair the proper performance of her/his official duties.
Confidentiality of Declaration: The LACC shall treat each declaration as classified information and as such only authorized personnel of the commission shall have access to the contents of the declaration. Nonetheless, authorized agencies other than the LACC may have access to specific contents of thdeclaration provided a formal request is made to the LACC, which shall then determine the justification of the request prior to giving access to the requesting agency.
Sanctions for False Declaration: Each public servant shall declare and affirm that her/his declaration is accurate to the best of her/his knowledge. Any statement in such declaration found to be false upon verification shall lead to summary dismissal in the case of political appointees and suspension in the case of other public servants pending determination by a court of competent jurisdiction.
10.1 Declaration of Assets or Performance Bonds: A public official and civil servant involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuing of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition declare her/his income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter:
a. at the end of every two years;
b. upon promotion or progression from one level to another;
c. upon transfer to another public office; and,
d. upon retirement or resignation.
Repository and Contents of Declaration: The declaration of personal income, assets, liabilities and the performance bond as may be required, shall be lodged with the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC). The declaration shall be promptly updated by the public servant upon subsequent changes in her/his interest and/or assets. Each declaration along with the updates thereto shall include disclosure of income, assets, liabilities, net worth, financial and family interests held by the official. The Declaration of Income, Assets and Liabilities form in Appendix I shall be used for this purpose.
11.3.5 Remedies for sexual harassment shall be those prescribed under the civil and criminal laws.
Usage of Prohibited Drugs and Related Substances: A public servant shall not take any prohibited drugs and other related substances unless such drugs are dispensed and administered by a qualified physician during the course of medical treatment.
a. make public, or otherwise use, any confidential knowledge or information gained as a consequence of employment in the public service;
b. distribute, publish, mail or otherwise release any confidential information gained as a result of employment in the public service.
A public servant leaving employment in the public service will return any document or items which relate to the public service and which are not otherwise publicly available.
Maintaining Integrity of the Service and Work Environment: A public servant shall exhibit conduct that will contribute to a positive work environment and not compromise the integrity of the public service. S/he shall not engage in abusive language or fight on any government premises, or any public place.