At Open Government Partnership Sitting, Senator Taylor Identifies Liberia’s Shortcoming

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Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor has said though Liberia has good laws and policies on the book, lack of implementation and commitment remain hindrances to the progress of the country.

Speaking at a one-day meeting organized by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) yesterday, Senator Taylor intoned that the mindset and attitude of Liberians towards the country makes it difficult to see it progressing.

“Making Liberia what it should be should not only rest on the Executive, Legislature and the Government in general, but we all should be transparent, have patriotic attitude and be accountable.  It takes the mindset of the people especially on the issue of corruption to change this country into good for all,” Senator Taylor stressed.

According to the Bong County Senior Senator, it takes a strong commitment on the part of every Liberian in his/her respective area of work or stay to get the country on par with other developing countries.

She said the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led administration has made a great stride in achieving some developmental goals in the country, but until Liberians develop patriotic mindset and avoid corruption to account for what they do; such progress will not be seen publicly.

At the level of the Legislature, Senator Taylor said they have made progress in passing many acts including the Freedom of Information, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA), Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI), General Auditing Commission (GAC), the Internal Audit Secretariat (IAS) the Code of Conduct, amongst others.

Making reference to President Sirleaf’s previous statement, Senator Taylor said though Government has made strides, there is still more to be done to bring Liberia to the level it needs to be.

On the issue of unattended bills still pending for passage, the Senator named the Corruption Offensive Act, Whistle Blower Act, and Creation of a Corruption Act, amongst others.

She called on Government to establish put system in place and make the Open Government Partnership effective in order to inspire love and unity among Liberians.

She recalled that the Open Government Partnership established by President Obama in 2010 September is an instrument to increase public participation, transparency and accountability in the governance process, believing that such is good for Liberia’s expected growth.

In his introductory statement at the meeting, Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Information, Norris Tweh said the Open Government Partnership is meant to create information sharing between Government and citizens to bring transparency in the governance process.

The OPG began with 8 countries, but over 60 countries are currently part of the program.

The meeting on July 8, 2014 allowed some Government ministries and agencies to make presentations on their activities.

Ministry of Finance that took the first turn said it has established the open Budget Initiative with an electronic billboard displaying information about the budget and all activities that Government expends money on.

The Finance Ministry representative also disclosed that information system is in place and can be accessed free of charge at the ministry.  The representative said the information system is meant for all Government ministries and agencies, but for now they are tracing expenditures made in the Health and Education sectors.

For Information Minister Lewis Brown, he gave some historical synopsis of Liberian society to be characterized by secret societies and stressed the need for the implementation of the OPG, noting that it is an instrument to use in the realization of true democracy.

“To have a democratic society, there should be open information system to get everyone involved in the governance process, and this is why the Ministry of Information is there for the public,” Minister Brown said.

For the Liberia Telecommunication Corporation (LIBTELCO), its deliverable was disclosed to be in the direction of connecting all government ministries and agencies in central Monrovia, Harbel in Margibi County and Fendell.

It now uses the optic fabric cable, a high speed internet system brought by the Africa Connection to Europe (ACE) meant to connect Liberia and Africa to Europe through the internet.

LIBTELCO’s constraints were identified to mainly center on finance; something the representative that spoke on behalf of the institution said was hindering the progress of LIBTELCO.

In addition to the constraint, LIBTELCO’s system was vandalized during the war and after, which is creating difficulty in extending the service distribution.

The Liberia Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (LEITI) for its part disclosed that it has established the E-Club reaching out to students and youths to explain its role and acquaint the younger generation with information about their resources and how they should benefit.

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