Liberia’s second oldest political party, the United People’s Party (UPP) has pledged its support to the House of Representatives proposal for appropriation of US$1m per district beginning 2014/2015 fiscal year for direct support to development initiative in each of the 73 electoral districts of Liberia.
The Party says it fully welcomed the initiative because it is a progressive move, which concedes some power to the rural people; and it has the potential to induce reverse-migration of the population-from urban to rural.
The UPP, in its letter to the Speaker and members of the Plenary of the Honorable House of Representatives, dated January 30, 2014, but read yesterday in House’s Plenary, said the desire to increase the County Development Funds (CDF) and make the appropriations electoral district-sensitive is a strong indication that members of the House of the 53rd Legislature are prepared to accelerate the process of decentralizing the Government of Liberia.
“The United People’s Party believes that just as the post civil-war electoral process has compelled Liberians who are interested in politics to connect with their constituencies and has provided an opportunity for Liberians, especially the indigenous rural people to vote in their respective localities for Representatives, Senators and the President so, too, the allocation of funds directly to the electoral districts will persuade the people to become serious. Meet and make decisions on how their wealth should be applied, the letter, under the signature of Chairman Marcus S.G.Dahn, stated.
It added: “Mr. Speaker and members of the Plenary, we do not share the suspicion that you, the Lawmakers, are merely seeking to enrich yourselves. To the contrary, we would rather strongly emphasize that you are well-intent, and that we have no doubt the appropriations will be used correctly.”
However, UPP had urged the House of Representatives to pass a ‘Strong Legislation’ to protect the fund.
“The Party is prepared to work along with the House of Representatives in the regard,” the letter said.
The Party believed that the legislation would reduce the suspicion and misinterpretation of their intentions by some, and will also clarify the mechanism in the current budget law relating to decision-making on the county development funds – – county, district, and social – (CDF,DDF and SDF).
The Party also suggests that in order to further improve public understanding and perception of the initiative, the House of Representative quickly commissions a desk-review of the existing mechanism for the CDF and SDF.
“The findings of the desk-review will inform the debate (hopefully through evidential and factual data) in preparation for the next budget cycle,” the letter stated.
It added: “The budget law must clarify ho0w residents of the various electoral districts will meet; decide on; and ensure that funds appropriated for district development is expeditiously used and not abused, with full accountability and transparency at all levels.”
The House Speaker, J. Alex Tyler has mandated Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon to thanked the UPP for their appreciation and they have take notes the suggestions.
Meanwhile, according to the Press and Public Affairs Bureau of the House of Representatives, members of the House of Representatives will not issue vouchers or receive a penny to implement projects to be identified for direct district development across the 73 electoral districts of the country, if House Speaker’s proposed US$73m is approved in the 2014/2015 national budget.
The clarity is stemmed from assertions in some quarters that the proposal is meant to put a million dollars in each lawmaker pocket, the Bureau maintained that the intent of the proposal is to see rapid growth in the living standards of the rural dwellers, many of whom have been deprived for decades of good homes, bad roads, unsafe drinking water, health and educational facilities.
The House Speaker’s proposal comes amid appeals for attention from the rural dwellers during the recent nationwide tour by Members of the Legislature late last year, says the Press Bureau.
Under the Financial Management Laws of Liberia, the Executive Branch expends collected revenue and reports to the Legislature. The Legislature has at no time or will never indulge in usurping the function of the other branch to administrator Public funds.
The Plenary of the House at its 3rd Day Sitting endorsed the proposal after members overwhelmingly voted to in favor of Lofa 4 (UP) Hon. Mariamu Fofana ‘s request for that body to give a ‘thump up’ to the Speaker ‘s 73 M per District Proposal. The House, in supporting the idea, also called on the Liberian Senate to give its support to the suggestion to infuse the money for direct district development projects. “It will be a well deserved legacy,” the letter said.