Over 15,000 local government employees across the country may lose their respective jobs if a draft local government act currently before President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for perusal is passed into law.
The draft act was sent to the Liberian Legislature by the Chairman of the Governance Commission or GC Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, through the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in Monrovia.
Chapter 3.7 of the draft law indicates that when passed, it would nullify the existence of all statutory districts,cities,townships, and boroughs throughout the 15 political subdivisions of the country.
The act also seeks to deny city mayors, townships commissioners, clan chiefs, paramount chiefs and heads of municipal boroughs the rights to collect local government taxes as well as dissolve administrative powers of those offices under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The document further indicates that when nullified, superintendents of the fifteen counties would work with two elected youth representatives from each of the locales,and others to serve on a county council.
The council in this case would lack legal authority to generate funding, but relies on subsidy from central government to function. Citizens of the municipal borough of New Kru Town have told The New Dawn that after thoroughly reviewing the document, they cited theirRepresentative Edward Forh to clarify why he allegedly failed to inform them about the new local government act, which in effect, stripped localleaders of their legal powers.
According to them, every time they cited Representative Forh to talk about the issue, he would not showup or give any justifiable reasons for the proposed dissolution of municipal cities, among others without seeking opinions of locals’.
However, when the residence of Representative Edward Forh was contacted, this paper was informed that the lawmaker was still on agriculture break, and as such, he was not available for comment on the allegation made by his constituents in the municipal borough of New Kru Town.
Several officials from various cities, districts, clans, etc, who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity, said they would resist every attempt by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Legislature to enact such local government act, lamenting that it is not in the interest of the people.
However, the Acting Director of Communications at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) Mohammed S. Kromah said the intent of the Act is not to put people out of jobs as it is being perceived in many quarters.
Speaking to this paper on Tuesday, 10 January Kromah disclosed that those counties which capital cities do not represent a city will obviously be dissolved to give way to other counties that have the necessary facilities befitting cities.
He cited as an example, Sinoe County alone has 45 cities; Grand Kru 31 cities, while NimbaCounty has 7 cities. He added some counties have far less population than others, but they maintain cities status and lack those basic things that are required of a city.
According to Kromah, during arecent nationwide county tour by the Minister of Internal Affairs Dr. Henrique Tokpa, he was confronted by citizens about the issue, but after careful explanations, they were convinced that some of the cities should be dissolved.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has removed the portion of the new local government act which calls for the election of county Superintendents. The Lower House believes electing superintendents and representatives will raise a question of who should report to whom in the various counties.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne