Finish Strong

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The Chairman of the Governance Commission has reminded the ruling Unity Party government that it no longer has time in its favor as there is left only three more years for the second tenure of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to elapse and there is still a lot to be done.

Speaking during a two day cabinet retreat held in Julijuah, Bomi County last week, Dr. Amos Sawyer indicated that if the government is to finish strong, there is an urgent need to prioritize projects that will have a significant impact on the lives of the Liberian people

Dr. Sawyer, discussing within the context of the time constraint faced by the Sirleaf administration, urged Cabinet Ministers to identify priority programs which they will be able to complete and which will have a significant impact on the people as stipulated in the agenda of this administration. “It is important for this country’s sake that this government finishes up strong. It cannot limp to the finish line,” he admonished.

This will be the first time since 1944 that one administration with a living President is going to be turning over to another administration with a living President, observed Dr. Sawyer. Considering uncertainties along the way, he indicated that there will be the dynamics of the politics as well as programmatic ideas so it is important that there is clarity of the agenda and strength of the implementation.

He predicted that as institutions are in a fragile state, programs must be clear and enforcement strong so that uncertainties and institutional weakness are minimized as a result of fragility. The Governance Commission chairman suggested to President Sirleaf that government officials on her team should now recommit themselves to finishing the final three years or very early see some kind of change. “I think it’s important that everybody on this team recommits themselves,” he noted amidst laughter.

President Sirleaf, in her remarks called for efficiency, coordination and a sense of common purpose across government as they embark on the final three-years of this administration.

She urged her official family to be “integrated, vigorous, with a common purpose to make the most of the remaining 35 months of this administration.” Assuring the Liberian public that her remaining time in office will not be a lame duck government, as it is expected in many quarters, she declared “We are going to take it to the finish line and then turn it over.”

Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, for his part, was more concerned about the decentralization of government. He thanked the President for organizing the retreat and expressed the hope that government follows up on the decentralization process, making sure of the involvement and participation of local officials and citizens in the rural communities in all government initiatives.

“I think we should begin to connect those people with the different programs being implemented because at the end of the day government has to account for what was or was not done,” said the Vice President.

The Retreat was intended to reunite the official family of the Executive Branch, infuse a commonness of purpose, and recognize the Government’s successes as well as set ambitious but realistic and achievable targets for the next three years. Most of Government’s development activities have been put on hold due to the Ebola virus disease that has plagued the country since March 2014.

Though one of the objectives of the retreat was to identify and set realistic and achievable targets, Cabinet Ministers are now expected to present their proposed priority projects to President Sirleaf next Tuesday, January 27.

The next Cabinet Meeting takes place on February 18 while the first Cabinet Inter-active Forum is scheduled for March 12.

On the first day, nine presentations were made including the Cabinet Programs Update by the Director-General of the Cabinet, Mr. Jordon Sulonteh, who set out a process which Ministries, Agencies and Corporations need to follow to agree on priorities by February 18.

The first quarterly review of performance against those priorities is set for April 1.  The nine presentations included: A review of the President’s Top Priorities: Roads, Energy, Ports by the Head of the President’s Program Delivery Unit, Dr. Clarence Moniba; Status Update and Execution Plan for Youth Development by Youth and Sports Minister, Mr. Lenn Eugene Nagbe; Status Update on Roads Infrastructural Development and Post-Ebola Execution by Public Works Minister, Mr. W. Gyude Moore, Sr. and Status Update on Energy Projects and Post-Ebola Execution Plan by Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, Mr. Patrick Sendolo.

Others were the Status Update on the new Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Post-Ebola Executive Plan by Gender, Children and  Social Protection Minister, Mrs. Julia Duncan Cassell; Status Update on the current Health Situation and the Execution Plan for a Normal Healthcare System by Health Deputy Ministers, Dr. Bernice Dahn, and Yah Zolia and Assistant Minister Tolbert Nyenswah; Status Update on the Re-opening of Schools and Education Execution Plan for Post-Ebola by Education Deputy Minister, Mr. Anthony Nimely and Status Update on the Agricultural Recovery Program and Post-Ebola Execution by Agriculture Minister,  Dr. Florence Chenoweth.

On Day Two, Presentation on the 2014/2015 Budget Execution Report and the Agenda for Transformation and Economic Recovery were made by Finance and Development Planning Minister, Mr. Amara Konneh; Liberia Revenue Authority- Revenue Performance Update and Execution Plan for Revenue Growth by Commissioner-General, Mrs. Elfreda Tamba; Driving Inclusive Private Sector Growth Agenda – Ministry of Commerce and Industry Execution Plan by Commerce and Industry Minister Mr. Axel Addy; The Importance of Audit in Government and Post-Ebola Execution Plan was made by the Auditor-General Mrs. Yusador Gaye; while the final presentation on the Status Update on the Public Sector Reforms and Post-Ebola Execution Plan was made by the Civil Service Agency Director-General , Mr. George K. Werner.

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