By Sylvester Samba……………………………….
A Senior Public Education Officer attach to` the Northern Regional Office of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), Mr. Al-Hassan Sesay has said that the just concluded engagement of staff and volunteers of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) and the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) in Makeni on the Pay No Bribe (PNB) campaign was meant to keep them abreast with the PNB campaign and solicit their support in the fight against bribery in the country.
Explaining the rationale for the meetings to staff of both institutions, Mr. Sesay said that as key service providers in the energy and water sectors, they have a role to play in addressing bribery and corrupt behavior. Giving a background to the PNB, the Senior Public Education Officer made mention of the 2013 Transparency International Afro-barometer survey which stated that 84% of Sierra Leoneans had either paid a bribe to access public services or were asked to pay a bribe for the provision of public services.
Mr. Sesay further explained that according to the said report in 2014, only 41% of the respondents accepted to have offered a bribe to access public service. He disclosed that Sierra Leone did not receive the Millennium Challenge Compact of $444M because it did not pass the MCC corruption indictor but only succeeded in getting the threshold of $44 million. “This trend became very worrying for the international community; investor confidence was lacking and a reputational risk for the country…The PNB therefore is a response to reverse the negative trend of bribery in the country”, He noted.
Mr. Sesay added that the PNB is being piloted in the Western Area (Rural and Urban), Bo, Kenema and Bombali Districts for an initial period of six months, targeting education, health, water, energy sectors and the Sierra Leone Police. The Senior Public Education Officer disclosed that the PNB is led jointly by the ACC and the Office of the Chief of Staff, funded by UK Government and the Government of Sierra Leone with Coffey International providing technical support.
In his overview of the PNB campaign, Acting Regional Manager North, Umaru Sesay noted, the PNB is an innovative reporting platform where citizens can anonymously report incidents of petty corruption and bribery. The Acting Manager emphasized that the PNB is not a system for investigating people or punitive action, but a data capturing tool allowing the ACC to collect and share data trends with relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The Acting Regional Manager said the PNB reporting platform gives the public an opportunity to register an incident of bribery by calling a hotline number 515, accessing the PNB website or a mobile application in Krio, Mende and Temne. Sesay noted that the recorded data will allow the ACC to monitor public sector corruption trends, and use quantitative evidence to design more effective anti corruption policy and processes as citizens will be able to access civil society animators in towns and villages to register complaints on bribery.
“In the course of the implementation of the PNB, if the ACC finds sufficient evidence against a public officer in the pilot MDAs that could warrant prosecution, that public officer would be prosecuted…It does not mean that because the PNB is now implemented in the pilot MDAs no prosecution will be meted on its public officers found wanting for corruption offences”, he emphasized.