The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other partners has taken government activities to rural Liberia by launching service centers in several of the political capitals of the 15 counties.
The service centers (CSCs) are one-stop centers where ministries, agencies and commissions (MACs) in those counties will provide public services such as issuing marriage certificates, birth certificates; business registration; land deeds; permits, among other civic procedures.
The centers are established with the aim of decentralizing the government by bringing civic services to the people in all the counties. People from up country will no longer have to endure the expense and inconveniences of traveling to the nation’s capital, Monrovia, to access those services which have now been brought within their reach.
“The exercise is also a clear vision for a new Liberia that responds to the needs of its people by being more inclusive in governance, service-oriented and economically participatory,” Dr. Roosevelt Jayjay, Director for Decentralization, MIA, said.
The counties which are now enjoying the benefits of the service centers are Bong, Margibi, Grand Bassa, and Nimba.
While dedicating the Margibi and Bong centers recently, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the citizens that before the end of her presidency she aims to take the government and its services to the locals to ease the burden of travelling to Monrovia “for every little thing”.
“Government’s decentralization program started when the Governance Commission Chairman, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, initiated the process, which has today come to fruition,” the President declared.
Dr. Sawyer and his colleagues have been the major driving force behind the decentralization program and therefore the government must recognize them “for their tireless efforts,” said President Sirleaf.
She said the program consists of economic, political and administrative components and other essential elements that will ensure that government is brought to the doorsteps of the people.
The program, the President noted, started with the County Development Fund (CDF) and the Social Development Fund (SDF), which enable each county to receive direct budgetary support to their County Development Agenda (CDA), as well as their social development drives.
She called on residents of the counties to take advantage of the Service Centers and utilize them for their own benefit, adding, “You must take ownership of the centers and avoid those vices that have the tendency to spoil it.”
She commended the European Union (EU) and the Kingdom of Sweden for their total commitment and support, which is making the decentralization program a reality.
In remarks, Varney A. Sirleaf, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister, lauded the UNDP and its partners for the support in decentralizing government activities.
He assured development partners that the government will do all it can to take its services to every part of the country.
Swedish State Secretary for International Development Cooperation, Ms. Ulrika Modeer, described decentralization as a very good form of governance.
Madam Modeer said that the Swedish government has approved 158 million euros for Liberia for the next five years.
She said of the amount, a significant portion will go towards supporting government’s decentralization programs.