At least five members of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature have recommended that the name or title, the County Development Fund (CDF) be amended to be known as District Development Fund (DDF) and/or that the name or title, the CDF can remain as it is, but funds be prorated (share) through the districts.
Of the five lawmakers, those from Montserrado and Nimba Counties have argued that the distribution of the CDF, otherwise known as development funds, should be based on population and the numbers of districts, instead of giving US$200,000 to each county under the scheme.
The lawmakers are Representatives Richard N. Koon, George Samah and Hanson Kiazolu of Montserrado County Districts #s 11, 12 and 17, respectively. Others were Representatives Dohwohn Gleekia and Roger Domah of Nimba County Electoral Districts #s6 and 7.
The five lawmakers made the remarks separately during a recent one-day Legislative Acquaintance Meeting Reform at a local resort in Sinkor. The Meeting was facilitated by NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development and Developmental Educational Network of Liberia (DEN-L)–a USAID-funded project, known as Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI).
The Monday’s Legislative Acquaintance Meeting brought together five with two coming after the benediction, while 26 of them were previously invited to attend.
The participating lawmakers consented to the establishment of the an “escrow account,’ to deposit the CDF and SDF, and at least US$100,000 be allotted to each of the 73 electoral districts for development purposes.
Madam Milica Panic, LAVI Chief of Party, said the advocacy for the CDF is to help the government to foster development, while USAID Senior Democracy Officer Michael Haines, stressed the need for development in Liberia to ensure the effectiveness in the usage of the CDF.
It may be recalled that the House of Representatives is reviewing a proposed law to amend portion of the budget law to be protected from constant changes on an annual basis.
The draft law is named and styled: “An Act to Establish a National County Social Development Fund (CSDF) or Stand Alone Law.”
The stipulation of the CDF for each county is US$200,000 in the fiscal budget and the Social Development Fund involves payments emanating from concession agreements.
The House’s Plenary voted to send CSDF’s Stand Alone Law to the Joint Committee on Judiciary and the Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning for critical revision and will report to Plenary within two weeks.
Plenary’s decision followed a communication from Nimba County District #8 Representative Larry P. Younquoi, imploring the Lower House to expeditiously pass it into law so as to enable the desired impact of the CSDF dawn of the lives of Liberians, as was initially envisaged.
The foremost standing amendment in the CSDF’s Stand Alone Law, is “All funds allocated in the budget directly to a county as National County Social Social Development Funds, and any other funds collected in the name and on behalf of the county, directly or indirectly, shall first be transferred to an escrow account.”
The CSDF’s Standing Law maintained that the County Council shall be presided by the Legislative Caucus Chair or the Co-chair.
Earlier eight implementing Liberian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that are USAID-funded, among them Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI), launched a singular advocacy urging the government to establish an escrow account for all funds pertaining to the County Social Development Fund to encourage access to funds and promote infrastructure developments in the 15 counties.
The CSOs claimed that all the funds allocated in the budget directly to county as National County Social Development Funds in the tone of US$3 million (US$200,000 for each county), and any other funds collected in the name and on behalf of the county, directly or indirectly, must be placed in the escrow account.
The LAVI partners (sponsored CSOs), included the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD, the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), Liberia Media Center (LMC), Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy in Liberia (CUPPADL), Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-Liberia), Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP), Rural Human Rights Activists Program (RHRAP) and NAYMOTE.