By Umaru Jah :
As the government of Sierra Leone expressed strong concern over the recently published Transparency International report on global corruption barometer, H.E Jongopie S. Stevens and his staff has paid a visit to Transparency International Headquarters in Berlin, to seek clarifications on the methodology of the survey, sampling techniques and interpretations of results.
While acknowledging the work of Transparency International, Ambassador Stevens expressed concern over the outcome of the report especially at a time when Sierra Leone is on the verge of leading Africa’s economic growth.
He made mention of the fact that Sierra Leone has received international recognition in its drive to improve several sectors in governance and further questioned the credibility of the research group. Credibility has an extreme significance, as negative results have an impact on investments in the country. Therefore, a study of such nature should be undertaken by a credible and independent organisation to avoid scanty analysis and virtually meaningless data.
The Ambassador reiterated government’s commitment in tackling corruption and informed Transparency International about the tireless efforts made by the Anti-Corruption to pursue matters relating to corruption in the country.
He said “Sierra Leone has one of the toughest Anti-Corruption laws within the sub-region and effort to minimise corruption has been relentless.” He made emphasis on the failure of Transparency International to acknowledge the positive strides made by government in several sectors in the recent past.
Responding, the Deputy Managing Director of Transparency International, Dr. Miklos Marschall, expressed appreciation to Ambassador Stevens for his visit as it provides the forum for dialogue.
He said it is important for them to realise that the report did not give prominence to government’s efforts in other sectors and assured the Ambassador that the concerns raised will be taken into consideration.
Dr. Marschall noted that his organisation’s aim is not to blame government institution but helping them to identify key areas and do necessary reforms to effect changes
The Deputy Director said a critical assessment of the report revealed that among the 107 countries surveyed, the government of Sierra Leone received more accolades and good scores with regards to efforts made in the fight against corruption. In that regard, he called on government to properly digest the report as it was not all that gloomy for the country. Feedback from respondents he went on indicates their willingness to help minimise corruption in the country.
The Director of Research, Dr. Finn Heinrich dismissed media claims that Sierra Leone is ranked as the highest in terms of bribery or corruption, “We did not say that Sierra Leone has the highest level of corruption or ranked as the highest in terms of bribery. We did not give ranks to countries because the survey was conducted only in 107 countries,” he stated
On the conduct of the research he disclosed that a Russian based institution TNS RMS was awarded the contract to do the survey. As an Independent Institution, Transparency International did not conduct the survey itself but awarded the contract to TNS RMS, who worked with their regional partners in Senegal conducted the survey in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Heinrich said the coverage regions represent about 80 percent of the total population. He believed that the interviews were conducted on a random basis and their researchers covered most of the regions across the country.
He acknowledged progress made in the judicial sector in this yea’s report unlike the 2012 survey.
In conclusion Ambassador Stevens and his team called on Transparency International to empower its local chapters in Sierra Leone so that they can help government in sensitising people on their right and responsibilities vis-à-vis corruption and other related matters.