11 July 2019

Liberia: MIA, GC Launch Local Government Awareness

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Governance Commission have begun engagements with local government stakeholders to explain the contents of the Local Government Act (LGA) of 2018.

Signed into law on September 19, 2018 by President George Manneh Weah, the Local Government Law among other things seeks to form a greater shared-governance partnership between central Government in Monrovia and local governments at the County level through the transfer of certain administrative, fiscal and political powers and authority.

The Law is also intended to establish legitimate system of local self-governance that is decentralized, gender-sensitive, participatory and accountable, and in which the power to make local political decisions is inherent in the local communities and the locally elected administration and councils based on democratic principles.

A release from the Ministry of Internal Affairs says County Superintendents, traditional Chiefs, representatives of Civil Society organizations, marginalized groups including Mr. Beyan Kota of the Christian Association of the Blind and women leaders are meeting in Gompa City, Nimba County from Wednesday, July 10th, to Friday, July 12, 2019.

Speaking at the opening, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Research and Development Planning, Honorable Olayee S. Collins told the gathering that the engagement is meant to deepen understanding of participants on what the law says and how it will apply to local government.

"Signing of the LGA by President George Manneh Weah in September 2018 represents a huge change in how government should operate, which now makes it our responsibility to spread the message of the law, while a full implementation plan is being done". Honorable Collins stressed.

He disclosed that Minister Varney A. Sirleaf has secured commitment of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to fund the crafting of a 10-year systematic implementation plan of the Law in the next 2-3 months, which is aligned with the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

The Internal Affairs Ministry official encouraged the participants to take the engagements seriously because it sets the basis for the law to be accepted, understood and fully rolled out.

Speaking earlier, Chairman of the Governance Commission, Cllr. NdubuisiNwabudike said it is important to note here that a decentralized governance system will play a major role in determining development outcomes in Liberia, and local governments are the principal agents of the decentralization strategy, and that the core responsibility of local governments is to deliver services based on the extent of power, authority and resources available to them.

Cllr. Nwabudike also made specific reference to the implementation plan which according to him, will focus on increasingthecapacityofgovernment institutions, at the local level, tomakeincremental and sustained progress in theimplementation of theLocal Government Act of 2018; Strengthen thecapacityof countyadministrators to coordinate and provide oversight ofgovernmentactivities across sectors; Improvethe capacityof cities to managerevenuesand deliver services; and Increase citizens' representationin planningand decision makingon service deliveryin counties andcities.

Prominent Local Government and Decentralization experts are serving as facilitators of the exercise to include; former Governance Commissioner Dr. YarsuoWeh-Dorliae, Cuttington University Lecturer of Government studies Dr. Alfred Kula and Professor Felix Adesina of the Institute of Local government Studies, among others.

The Local Government Law awareness exercise is being carried out through the Liberia Decentralization Support Program (LDSP), which is implemented by the Government with funding for the Swedish Government and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The Nimba event will be followed by series of engagements at various levels and through various channels of communication in the coming days.

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