The Governance Commission (GC) recently ended a one-day policy dialogue with key stakeholders on the activities of the Grand Bassa County Service Center (CSC) at the Buchanan City Hall.
The meeting was part of a national strategy to broaden policy discussions on emerging issues in decentralization reforms and decentralization implementation, as well as challenges and prospects of coordinating government’s service delivery at the newly established County Service Centers.
The Buchanan dialogue was held under the theme “Enhancing Citizens’ Access to Government Services: Lessons from the Grand Bassa County Service Center.”
The dialogue specifically discussed management, demands for services and local coordination issues between the office of the superintendent on one hand and the ministries, agencies and commissions working in the county on the other. Stakeholders also reviewed experiences and lessons learned by the ministries, agencies and commissions at the County Service Center as well as the citizens’ demands and perceptions of service delivery at the Center.
The Grand Bassa Service Center, launched in June 2015, has developed into a viable complex of service delivery, where citizens can access numerous government services, including marriage certificates, land deed registration, business registration, birth certificates, adjudication of labor cases, as well as psychosocial support to victims of domestic violence and other sexual and gender based violence and related cases, all at one location.
The service center has also stepped up government revenue in the last eight months of its existence by raising millions of Liberian dollars and over US$20, 000 in government revenue.
Through the CSC, numerous local businesses were able to migrate from the informal to the formal sector in Grand Bassa County thus providing security and a secured environment for local businesses to access loans and participate in microfinance programs. The CSC has also facilitated the documentation of numerous births through the issuance of birth certificates for children between the ages 0 and 12 years old.
The coordination role of the superintendent over line ministries in the counties is becoming more prominent through the CSC as staff of ministries now regularly report to a coordinator, who in turn reports to the superintendent. This development is now making it possible for the superintendent to keep track of activities of the ministries in the county.
Key policy issues coming out of the dialogue include the need for budgetary support to the CSC either through the central ministries or appropriations to the local authority for daily operational expenses and long term sustainability; human resource management at the county level and the supervisory role of the superintendent over local staffs of the ministries; and the need for massive awareness and sensitization of the citizens on the advantages of the CSC.
The Governance Commission and the Ministry of Internal Affairs will engage the appropriate stakeholders and develop the necessary policy frameworks to address all policy concerns emanating from the Service Center, while the lessons learned from Buchanan will guide the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other partners and collaborators in the rollout of new service centers across the country.
The policy dialogue brought together about 70 national and local stakeholders including Dr. Amos Sawyer, Chairman of the Governance Commission; Mr. Augustus Zayzay, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs; Mr. Levi Demah, Superintendent of Grand Bassa County; Mrs. Julia Bono, Mayor of Buchanan City; representatives of the European Union, USAID, UNMIL and UNDP; and heads of civil society organizations in Grand Bassa County.