Vice President Joseph Boakai has officially launched Liberia’s first County Service Center in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, a one-stop service center under the government’s decentralization platform.
Launching the center on Tuesday, VP Boakai underscored the government’s seriousness in its vision of decentralizing the governance system to move services from Monrovia to distant places.
“For so long now, people from all across the country have traveled to Monrovia to get marriage certificates or to register their businesses. Our people have been compelled to travel from distant places to Monrovia to register their vehicles and get drivers licenses,” Vice President Boakai recalled.
He assured participants at the ceremony that the government will not rest until every county in the Republic has its County Services Center (CSC) with certain basic services.
He noted that the CSC will provide in any given leeward county the same quality of service as in Monrovia.
“This year we have started efforts to introduce county-based budgeting so that all counties may know how big each county resource envelope is, and this will enable each county to consult with the people on their priorities, and with full knowledge of what is possible from their existing resources,” the Vice President explained.
Observers believe that this important initiative—the opening of the CSC—represents a tangible move toward the devolution of power. This means the transfer of power and services from the central government in Monrovia to the local governments or from the presidency to the people.
For his part, Antonio Vigilante, United Nations Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to supporting the Government of Liberia’s decentralization platform .
Deputy SRSG said the goal of the platform is to promote local government activities in the counties as a means of enhancing community empowerment.
Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly stated that the Buchanan CSC will be followed shortly by others in Maryland, Nimba, Bong, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, Bomi and Margibi counties.
Min. Dukuly explained that the reason Buchanan was chosen to have the first CSC was based on a rapid assessment of all counties that were prepared to have the center, of which Grand Bassa indicated the most readiness.
He asserted that initial services to be provided at the Grand Bassa CSC will include, but not be limited to, birth certificates, marriage and divorce certificates, business registration documents, contractor’s licenses and ECOWAS work permits.
The implementation is being done by the Liberian government through a European Union grant for the actualization of the CSC in the initial eight counties.
Grand Bassa Superintendent Etweda Cooper used the occasion to thank President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, national and international partners for the support of the one-stop shop center where Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (MACs) will provide their specialized decentralization services to the public.
The opening of the center in Grand Bassa County, she said, marked a significant transition to a new governance approach aimed at making services available to the public.