An institution intended to accommodate experts to research, study and make sound public policies has been launched in Monrovia.
The Center for Policy Studies (CERPS), as the nomenclature indicates, is a policy research institution independent of government, prepared to rigorously investigate policy issues critical to the development of the country and important to the West African region.
Launched at the Corina Hotel on Thursday, January 22, with members of civil society, government, the business community and international partners in attendance, the primary purpose of CERPS is to identify and analyze the development situation of the country through research.
CERPS works along with the global organization, Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP).
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, CERPS Director Dr. Byron Tarr emphasized that policy formulation and free thinking of people have been monopolized by the state.
He said Government and policy formulators have failed to bring to the people public policies that will positively affect their lives. Therefore, he said, it is about time to break the monopoly that the public sector has over the people.
Dr. Tarr was quick to note that his group is not to serve as a critic of government or be an alternative government, but to independently work but in line with government in researching, studying and formulating policies that will positively impact the general public.
Citing a reference on failed policy, Dr. Tarr noted that in 1974 what could be seen as the Open Door Policy of the Tubman administration was introduced, allowing foreigners to come to the country to exploit Liberia’s resources without the needed value return.
He said as a result of the long existence of such policy in the Liberian economy, the country has suffered a setback in human and infrastructural development.
Speaking at the launch of the institution, the president of the University of Liberia, Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, defined Think tank as an organization that generates policy interest, analysis and facts about domestic issues.
He acknowledged that Think Tanks results from society complexity due to social globalization, which (globalization) also comes from information communication technology.
Dr. Dennis said unlike South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and some Sub-Saharan African countries that have higher standard of think tanks, Liberia is still at a low level.
This means that there are not many institutions here involved in research and policy formulation that will help to bring up beneficial policies to the Liberian populace.
Alluding to Dr. Tarr, Dr. Dennis indicated that CERPS is autonomous and independent of the formal structure of government; and that its goal is to facilitate research that results into an informed decision.
Stressing further, the UL president said for policy making to positively impact the public, information about it should be reliable and accessible through media engagement.
He said gone are the days when arrogant researchers made research and did not publish but expected it to be found, contrasting with today’s reality whereby the public is in high demand of thinkers who will draft policy to positively affect people’s needs.
Meanwhile, CERPS which is a sub organization to follow Think Tank’s footstep in Liberia is compromised of members and staff with decades of research experience in several policy fields and expertise in Economics, Political Science, conflict, land issues and development.
Its members have worked in government, with research organizations, academic institutions and civil society both nationally and internationally.