Identifying Essential Priorities

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United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, has called for a consultative interaction among Liberians that would allow them to strategize and reach a consensus on how their country should be developed.

The Liberian Government needs to lead a process that would see the country pursue reasonable and essential priorities to achieve greater impact on the general public, determine what development should look like and decide on those things to be prioritized.

The US diplomat spoke last week when she delivered the keynote address at the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) President’s Lecture Series in Monrovia. The Series, initiated by the new President of the university, Dr. Joseph T. Isaac, are often addressed by stakeholders who discuss a wide range of national issues.

Ambassador Malac said that from her interaction with Liberians, the citizens have a very different idea or no idea at all about what development actually means in concrete terms.

She noted that the government’s long term development agenda, Vision 2030, outlines four different priorities ranging from the verge of another civil war to moving steadily to a middle income country which do not offer a concrete or sustainable solution to the country’s problem.

“Vision 2030 is just a vision which does not outline concrete steps needed to get to that desire of the country to reach a middle income status.”
Though she indicated that the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) attempts to fill in some of the steps and explains how with the help of international partners Liberia will move in small increments to a middle income country, it is a long way to go.

She said just having this national aspiration, the vision and the initial five-year plan, the AfT, on paper which is like any other document, does not guarantee that every goal will be met.
The US Ambassador said the expectations that the government and Liberians have about development have to be reasonable, otherwise goals will remain unmet and many people will understandably be frustrated and discouraged.

Though she is not suggesting another round of nationwide consultations, “I’m saying communities need to get involved in making decisions on the ground about things that directly affect them.

“Local communities, not the central government, should direct their own development projects, while Monrovia will provide the overall coordination and ensure the provision of resources to carry out those plans.
She said the government has an important role to play, adding that the central government needs to create the enabling environment for development to take place.

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