President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will today launch the decentralization platform in Gbarnga, Bong County.
Local officials from across the country, including superintendents, assistant superintendents for development, assistant superintendents for fiscal affairs, statutory superintendents, district commissioners as well as deputy ministers from the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Finance and Planning Development, autonomous and government agencies are in Gbarnga holding a national orientation workshop to set the stage for the decentralization of critical government services in the country.
Relevant topics discussed at the gathering include, presentation of the draft LGA-Implication for local administrative structure and roles of superintendents in a decentralized system of governance, the superintendent as CEO, leadership coordination in the context of the implementation of the decentralization platform and county development agenda and presentation on the county treasury framework/fiscal decentralization, among others.
The workshop is categorized by questions and answers, group discussions and presentations and a resolution that will be adopted at the close of the event on Saturday February 21, for the effectiveness of the decentralization programme.
Speaking to the Daily Observer following the formal opening of the orientation workshop for local officials, the National Programme Director of the National Decentralization Implementation Secretariat at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Dr. Roosevelt Jayjay, said the primary objective of the decentralization platform is to create the basis to carry government services closer to the people in the leeward counties.
Dr. Jayjay informed this newspaper that for too long government services have been heavily concentrated in Monrovia, leaving ordinary citizens out of the decision making process.
He maintained that the decentralization platform will ensure that certain services hitherto carried out from Monrovia will now, beginning 2015, be handled at a local level, bringing them closer to the people in the counties, with the consent and involvement of the local officials at the county level.
Dr. Jayjay named the issuance of drivers’ licenses, marriage licenses, birth certificates, and labor inspection as some of the initial decentralization services to start with, after the launch of the decentralization platform.
Dr. Jayjay said the decentralization process will benefit citizens living in the leeward counties to get easy access to government services rather than leaving their counties to travel to Monrovia to obtain a single document. This will also reduce the cost of government operations.
He further said that the process will redefine the roles of county superintendents who will now assume new nomenclature as county chief executive officers.
It may be recalled that in 2011, in Salala, Bong County the Government of Liberia launched what it called a policy document known as the “decentralization policy” that would guarantee that government takes its services to the people that would provide the platform for local citizens to elect county superintendents, the county legislative assembly and other local officials.
Since the formation of this country, the government has had an age old centralized system with all developments emanating from Monrovia before reaching the interior.
The decentralization program is the brainchild of the Governance Commission with the necessary support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Liberia (GOL).