President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sent to the National Legislature for enactment into law a Bill titled: “The Local Government Act of 2015.”
In the communication dated July 4, 2016, President Sirleaf told the Legislature that the Bill is pursuant to Article 5 of the Liberian Constitution, which mandates the Legislature to enact laws promoting national unification and the encouragement of all citizens to participate in governance and benefit from the social, economic and political developments of the country; “we submit this Bill… which aims to decentralize the Nation’s governance structure.”
The President further explained that the Bill seeks to actualize the National Policy of Decentralization and local governance by establishing democratic and political administrative structures at the local government level. “It also provides for the democratic elections of certain local government officials,” she said.
The Bill, President Sirleaf emphasized, “adheres to the Constitution, which declares emphatically that Liberia is a unitary State; therefore, the decentralization, delegation, and devolution of powers and authority provided for in this Bill do not in any way alter, nor should be construed to alter the unitary government of the Republic.”
Therefore, she concluded, “in furtherance of our commitment to meet our citizens’ desire for greater participation in governance and take greater responsibility for their communities; enhance their ownership of development activities; and promote transparency, accountability, and equity in the utilization of state resources, I request your timely consideration to enact into law ‘The Local Government Act of 2015’.”
The Bill was sent to the Senate Committees on Internal Affairs and Judiciary, respectively chaired by Senators Thomas Grupee and Varney G. Sherman, who were requested to make timely report to plenary.
The Local Government Act was crafted with the Governance Commission as the lead entity, following two years of extensive consultations throughout Liberia and with the full range of institutions of government and the inputs of civil society and the private sector. It was reviewed several times by the Cabinet and endorsed by the President, according to a release from the Governance Commission yesterday.
“There have already been numerous engagements with legislative committees and political parties about passing the bill into law,” the release said. At a recent conference in Buchanan, twenty political parties signed a joint resolution on decentralization and local governance reforms which supports the passage of the Local Governance bill into law.