Sierra Leone: Local Government Act and Policy to Be Reviewed

19 September 2019

Director of Decentralization Secretariat yesterday disclosed in an exclusive interview with this medium that the secretariat has put mechanisms in place for the review of both the Local Government Act of 2004 and the Local Government Policy.

He said the Act is now obsolete and does not address the dire needs of local councils across Sierra Leone.

Alex Bonapha said since the enactment of the Local Government Act in 2004,there have been series of challenges ranging from revenue mobilization to effective implementation of the decentralization process by government ministries, departments and agencies, among others, nothing that there are a lot of gap in the local and chiefdom councils which needed to be address during the review process.

"The 2004 Local Government Act has important provisions which strengthen governance structures at local levels. However, there are a lot of things that are to be put in place to perfect the operations of local councils. Remember that the Local Government Policy came into existence six years after the Act was enacted, there have been a lot of overlapping responsibilities even at local level and that is what the review tend to address," he said.

He said issues like revenue mobilization by councils and recruitment process of essential staff have been identified as some of the gaps that have existed within the Act.

"For example, the interference into the activities by chiefdom council has been very major in revenue collections of the councils. Another key issue has to do with the roles and responsibilities of Mayors and District Chairpersons, even though the Act made provision for the existence of Mayors and District Chairpersons, yet their roles are not properly defined despite that fact that they provide political directives to the councils," he said.

He said they have already recruited a consultant for the review process which will be completed in December, this year.

"This is just the beginning of a major review process the secretariat will embark on shortly. There are a lot of other laws that have come in conflict with the local government Act of 2004.For example the Chieftaincy Act of 2009, the Proventil Act of 1965 which created room for the existence of District Officers, the Tourist Act which made provision for the Ministry of Tourism to collect revenue from guest houses, hotels and other facilities, the Education Act of 2005 which deals with teachers recruitment, the Hospital Boards Act which make provision for the recruitment of hospital board members by the centre government, even though the councils are providing support to primary hospital among other things," he said.

He said that it is anticipated that the new Act will be clear on all of those issues as highlighted.

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