County officials across the country have recommended to the 53rd National Legislature to halt creation of additional sub-national structures until the Local Governance Act is passed.
The officials made the recommendation last Thursday during a two-day stakeholders’ consultation and sensitization forum held in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
They discussed the issues of rationalizing local government, administrative and traditional structures.
Organized by the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in collaboration with the United Nation Development Program (UNDP), the forum was held under the theme: “Stakeholders’ engagement to rationalize local government structures for sustainability and viability.”
According to them, increasing local structures without necessary economic and social benefits and infrastructure would create a lot of problems for central government.
“So, we are calling on the National legislature to stop the creation of more local government administrative structures in the counties,” the position statement noted.
In a consensus tone, the local authorities said they want the National Government to popularize the rationalization process and provide political, financial, and administrative supports that will necessitate the implementation of the rationalization process, in particular the decentralization policy.
“We urge the National Government to clearly demarcate the boundaries of sub-county structures before the hosting of district and chieftaincy elections,” they declared.
The officials continued that they want Central Government to set a time line for the Decentralization implementation, clearly define the roles and terms of reference of local leaders, and ensure the teaching of cultural values in schools.
“Government needs to increase efforts to ensure national reconciliation amongst our people, and provide some incentives for those local leaders that will be affected by the rationalization exercise,” the county officials noted.
Earlier, Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly told the county officials that the forum was intended for stakeholders to exchange ideas and agree upon criteria and efforts of Government to rationalize sub-national administrative structures.
By this, he said, their viability and sustainability in the country will be ensured.
Minister Dukuly said the MIA wants to ensure effective local self-governance and mass participation of citizens in the implementation of the National Policy on Decentralization and Local Governance.
According to him, the National Decentralization Policy will ensure a leadership structure that will provide local authorities the opportunity to exercise fiscal and material control, thereby taking responsibilities for improvement in the lives of citizens in their respective jurisdictions.
In a brief remark, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Urban Affairs, Amos Tweh, lauded the officials for their participation and the recommendations put forward by them.
He expressed hope that the process would be successful as they go about with the rationalization in the counties.
Deputy Minister Tweh told the officials that the government cannot do all but the traditional leaders need to help with the reform process, and take ownership of their counties.
The forum was attended by 75 participants from five counties—Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape, Margibi, Montserrado as well as representatives from political parties and Civil Society Organizations.