The abrupt cancellation and increase of gratis license plates (GP/NG) for non-governmental organizations have claimed the attention of the management of the Better Future Foundation.
In a formal statement recently submitted to organizers of the assessment discussion on Civil Society Sustainability Index (CSOS), supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and being implemented in Liberia by SUBAH-BELLEH ASSOCIATES (Management Consultants), BFF president Augustine Arkoi called on the government to revisit the decision.
He said “The abrupt cancellation of gratis plates (GP/NG) which, over the years, were used by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other charity organizations for service delivery to the needy and other vulnerable people in the country, should be revisited.”
According to Mr. Arkoi, the increment in the cost of the gratis plate from US$25 to US$175 by the immediate past government and which is being exercised by the current government is not only exorbitant but also has the potential to undermine the smooth operations of NGOs in Liberia.
Arkoi also underscored the need for the Government of Liberia (GoL) to provide budgetary allotments for the nation’s Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and institutions to annually advance proposals, including innovative approaches geared towards fast-tracking national development and the consolidation of peace and tranquility in the country.
“Such an increment in the cost of gratis plate by previous Liberian governments is not only detrimental to the best interest of ordinary citizens who constitute the vast majority of the nation’s population but also runs contrary to the much-heralded pro-poor development agenda of the current Liberian government, headed by President George Weah,” he emphasized.
The BFF President, in his presentation, however applauded the SUBAH-BELLEH ASSOCIATES (Management Consultants) for organizing the forum, which sought to generate the candid views of Liberian civil society actors and institutions as it relates to the critical appraisal of the CSOSI which has been developed by USAID.
According to the BFF president, the Index analyzes CSOs, using seven interrelated dimensions which included legal environment, organizational capacity, and financial viability, and advocacy, provision of services, infrastructure, and public image.
“Each of these seven dimensions was discussed by the panelists in terms of accomplishment made, problems remaining unresolved, recognition of the nature of understanding challenges by local actors, and strategies to address these challenges,” he said.
The BFF president also recalled that under an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL), representing CSOs, has the obligation to ensure that: All CSOs are fully registered and accredited; contribute to the establishment of a GOL/CSO Partnership Policy Technical Working Group; update the Directory of CSOs every two years and to ensure that the Directory locates all member CSOs, provide information on areas of specializations, linking them with the various sectors, ministries and agencies; review, revise and adopt a CSO Code of Ethics consistent with the National Code of Conduct, and ensure its implementation by the entire NCSCL members; ensure that as a Council, it will be faithful to its organic rules, other governance documents and regulations and to ensure transparency and accountability in its operations, just to name a few.
“Unfortunately,” Mr. Arkoi observed that “the implementation of almost all of the GOL’s obligations as enshrined in the GOL-CSO Accord is yet to be fully actualized.”
“We are not aware that since the inking of this MOU, the Government of Liberia ever convened any National Partnership Summit bringing together representatives of GOL-CSOs to review their partnership obligations,” he stressed.
Moreover, the BFF President pointed out that “Little or nothing has been done in terms of providing the necessary support and resources “In fair and reasonable ways”, as coined in the MOU, including the establishment of the “Civil Society Trust Fund” by parties to this Accord.
“On the other hand, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, which is a direct representative of CSOs to said MOU is yet to commission any studies aimed at strengthening and expanding the GOL-CSO partnership as provided for in section 1.3 of the Accord,” Arkoi disclosed.
According to him, “Little or nothing has been done to ensure competent, principled and committed CSO representation and participation at all levels of consultations with government on policy formulation and implementation as clearly spelled out by section 2.1 of said MOU.
“Beyond the GOL-CSO Partnership Agreement, Civil Society Organizations (CSOS), which should be seen as implementing partners to complement government’s development efforts, are faced with multiple challenges as it relates to their operations and sustainability,” he emphasized.