Liberia: House Considering Budgetary Support for Community Radios

River Gee lawmaker Francis Dopoh (pictured) said the level of consciousness in the country today be can be largely attributed to information dissimilation by the various community radio stations in the counties and therefore wants government to extend subsidy to community radios for their upkeep

At least 50 Community radios across the country, owned by communities, are expected to or might benefit from budgetary support in the 2019/2020 National Budget, beginning from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 upon its due passage.

Since 2004, tens of community radios have been established in leeward counties to serve as tools for development, information and entertainment. Studies have shown that there have been an extent of growth of community radios which have changed the lives of ordinary people in particularly the illiterate, rural poor as well as other marginalized groups.

The House's Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and the Public Account and Expenditure Committee on Thursday, July 11, during House's 46th day sitting, were tasked by Plenary to review and advise the august body whether a 'budget line' can be created to subsidize 'Community Radios', following a communication from River Gee County District #3 Representative Francis S. Dopoh, II.

The Joint Committee was further mandated to report to Plenary by Tuesday, August 6, which will be one week after the House resumes work on Monday, July 29, 2019.

Rep. Dopoh said the level of consciousness in the country today be can be largely attributed to information dissimilation by the various community radio outlets in the counties. He also said the quality of information and the frequency provided in the various vernaculars are propelling the level of democratic realization and interest in the governing process of the country.

"With these marvelous works of our community radios and the positive impact on our society, it will be a disservice to the people we represent, if we do nothing to subsidize the operations of these community radio stations that our electorate have explicit confidence and ownership of. It is an empirical evidence suggesting that a strong democracy pivots on quality information, and has a... positive significance on economic growth and productivity," Rep. Dopoh wrote.

He added: "Hon. Speaker, Deputy Speaker, distinguished colleagues, as we have before us a draft National Budget, that considers appropriation for the State Radio and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. I am honest-heartedly requesting the honorable plenary to appropriate as a line item, a budgetary amount significant to subsidizing our rural communities' radios to be supervised and executed by the Liberia News Agency (LINA) in collaboration with the Association of Liberia Community Radios (ALICOR)."

Meanwhile, Rep. Dopoh told journalists that the intent of the expected budgetary support is to only give subsidies to community radio stations "that are owned by communities and not by politicians or an individuals."

"We are hoping at least US$5,000 should be given to a community radio station as a subsidy. The money is not anticipated to control the community radios, but help develop and grow community radios to continue with their informative programs," Rep. Dopoh said.

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