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Tell US Secretary of State John Kerry: Don't Fund Corruption in Sierra Leone. Terminate Sierra Leone's Eligibility for MCC FY 2015 Compact Funding

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Tell US Secretary of State John Kerry:  Don’t fund corruption in Sierra Leone.

 

Subject: Terminate Sierra Leone’s Eligibility for MCC FY15 Compact Funding

 

Concerned Sierra Leoneans around the world are deeply worried and horrified by the destructive and devastating levels of corruption in their country. Sierra Leone’s application for Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding is under consideration again this year, after it was not put up for a vote last year because it did not pass MCC’s control of corruption indicator. However, the intervening year has made no difference, because the Sierra Leone government has failed to meet this fundamental requirement for MCC funding.

 

Sierra Leone experienced a brutal civil war from 1991-2001. Entrenched corruption and mismanagement of the country’s resources were root causes of the war.

 

Unfortunately, over ten years after the war, corruption in the country has only gotten worse. Successive governments that have ruled the country after the war have demonstrated no strong will or commitment to curtail this cancer in the country. For example, even when confronted with indisputable evidence of documented corruption, the governments decided to politicize such acts of criminal transgressions against the country leaving the perpetrators unpunished and the stolen monies unrecovered. (http://www.ThisIsSierraLeone.com/sierra-leone-how-6-2-billion-leones-were-being-stolen-every-three-months-at-documents-attached-a-must-read/)

 

From 2003 to 2012 (a ten-year period) for which audit reports are publicly available (http://www.auditservice.gov.sl/reports-2-annual-reports.html), the country’s auditing department records that around Le1,166,564,381,817.40 (over one TRILLION Leones) were stolen from the country’s finances. In dollar terms (using an average exchange rate of $1=Le4,000), this amounts to about $291,540,237.54 (almost over two hundred and ninety-one MILLION dollars). This is close to the amount the Sierra Leone Government will get if its MCC application is approved.  In fact, last year’s (2013) audit report for the 2012 financial year states that around Le402,197,626,701.00 (over four hundred billion Leones) equaling $100,549,406.90 (over one hundred million dollars) were fraudulently stolen from the country’s finances.  Although the MCC last year asked the Government of Sierra Leone to address this high level of corruption, none of the money stolen in 2012 has been recovered; in fact, no government official has been brought to justice for such breathtaking and unconscionable financial malfeasance against the citizens of the country.

 

The 2013 report refers to Sierra Leone as a “kleptocracy” (a state ruled by thieves).  Indeed what the audit reports show is the prevalence of grand and petty corruption at all levels of government.  Indisputably, Sierra Leone fails in all the “Control of Corruption Indicators” as spelt out by the MCC. Moreover, Sierra Leone fails the “Rule of Law Indicator” of the MCC. According to the reports, methods and practices to prevent such high- and small-scale corruption already exist in the country’s laws and regulations. However, as the audit report of 2013 states, “Losses from a failure to abide by procurement laws and regulations are eroding public trust in government. There is still a lack of awareness that as public servants we are all accountable to Parliament and the citizens for managing public funds with due regard and probity.”

 

According to estimates developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNICEF, WHO, World bank, UN DESA, and UNDP), Sierra Leone has the highest infant mortality rate in the world: 119.20 deaths per 1,000 live births (http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/indicators/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN) According to the World Bank, Sierra Leone ranks 1st in the world (2009-2013) in Maternal Mortality Rate: 107 deaths per 1,000 live births (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN).  According to Save the Children Organization, it costs between 13 cents and $6 each to save a child from infant mortality (http://www.savethechildren.org). Moreover, studies have shown in Rwanda that spending $2 on every pregnant woman can significantly reduce maternal mortality (http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/january-2010/save-lives-mothers-infants). Imagine how many children and mothers would be saved with the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been stolen from Sierra Leone through corruption in the last ten years! Because of corruption, Sierra Leone has failed to invest in its people, which is also a major prerequisite for MCC funding. Poverty reduction is one of the goals for MCC funding. Imagine the huge difference almost three hundred million dollars would make to reduce poverty in Sierra Leone, which remains almost perennially at the bottom of the poverty index globally.

 

The MCC makes its decision for countries that are eligible for 2015 funding in December 2014. Please join me in asking Secretary of State John Kerry, the Board of Directors and the Executive Director of the MCC to vote NO and TERMINATE Sierra Leone’s eligibility for MCC funding.

 

We clearly affirm that this petition should not affect the financial support the US is providing to fight the ongoing Ebola Virus outbreak in Sierra Leone. We absolutely support this financial commitment.

 



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