“There is a need for ordinary citizens’ participation in discussions on the management of the Social Development Funds (SDF), County Development Funds (CDF), and other money generated from natural resources cannot be overly-emphasized,” the Chief of Party (CoP) of the Liberia Accountability and Voices Initiative (LAVI/NRM) has said through a release.
LAVI is a Natural Resources Management Coalition, a USAID-funded project that has eight leading civil society groups working to ensure proper management of the money and natural resources of the 15 counties.
According to the release, Madam Milica Panic made the call recently at the validation exercise of the Political Economy Analysis (PEA) report focusing on reform of the CDF and SDF, coordinated by the Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP).
The validation exercise was made a subject of suggestions and inputs by stakeholders in attendance, including legislators with oversight responsibility on the subject matter, superintendents of Grand Bassa, Sinoe and Montserrado counties as well as civil society agents.
Participants suggested that local government institutions be responsible to disburse county monies to allow for speedy implementation of projects and increased involvement of women and youth in discussions on the management of the SDF and CDF.
Some of the participants decried the extreme involvement of lawmakers in the decision-making processes of the SDF/CDF, which they believe runs contrary to their oversight roles.
Sinoe County Representative Matthew Zarzar disagreed with views suggesting that lawmakers stay off the administration of the funds.
Zarzar argued that the inclusion of county legislative caucuses’ involvement was a coordination between the branches of government as enshrined in the Liberian Constitution.
For the last two years, the civil society coalition has been making interventions in the management of the CDF and SDF, and has amplified collective civil society advocacy and actions on NRM issues, facilitated by the CSD-focused research.
The network of the civil society groups indicated that the LAVI/NRM Coalition basically sought to gather broad-based inputs from diverse SDF stakeholders and public/private sector actors on reform options of the CDF as identified by the PEA and to further catalyze multi-stakeholders conversations on the importance of reforming such issues in Liberia.
Madam Panic said inputs that have come out of the validation meeting will be formed into a research report that will be given to the relevant stakeholders.
She named said partners as officials of the legislative and executive branches of government and universities.
This, she continued, will widen the debate on the handling of natural resource — and in a proper way.