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Cities, towns to be reduced

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn Liberia-As stakeholders want moratorium on new ones

A call to reduce the number of places refer to as cities and towns here has been reinforced, this time by participants attending a nationwide consultation and sensitization forum, in the central Liberian town of Gbarnga, Bong County.

There are 141 cities, 244 townships, 129 districts, 240 chiefdoms, 580 clans and 1198 general towns existing under Liberia’s local government administrative and traditional structures today.

Many of these  cities have little or no basic social services such as electricity, education, health, water supply as well as economic activities, etc.

Statistics show that more than 82.3% of resources (money) allocated to these sub-national structures are spent on personnel and related services; thus severely constraining expenditure on goods, services and developmental projects in the counties, leaving them impoverish and highly underdeveloped.

The southeastern region of the country, which is the least developed of all has more cities which realistically, cannot even score a mark for towns.

The continual multiplications of these local structures by greedy politicians as a means of creating jobs for sympathizers leave government with high personal costs, and little or no  infrastructure development.

Participants at the Gbarnga forum organized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and its partners to review the multiplicity of local administrative and traditional structures across the country share similar views.

They believe the multiplicity of local structures without necessary economic, social, infrastructure and basic services creates a lot of problems for government.

Opening the forum, MIA’s Deputy Minister for Research and Development Planning,  J. Tiah Nagbe, said too many structures are obstacles to decentralization and it leads to high administrative costs, and less money for development and services.

For his part, Dr. Roosevelt G. Jayjay, National Program Director for the Liberia Decentralization Support Program said decentralization is the best option for eradicating poverty and promoting development.

Dr. Jayjay called on participants to take the decentralization process serious by working with central government to realize the plans.

Meanwhile, a resolution issued by the participants called on the National Legislature to place a moratorium on the creation of new local government administrative and traditional structures.

They challenged government to reduce the existing number of cities, townships, clans, chiefdoms, and districts in the country.

The rationalization is a program component of National Decentralization Program, a flagship program of the Liberian government intended to enhance shared governance and ensure effective service delivery system at the local level.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs said the Gbarnga forum was the final phase of the regional consultation and sensitization which brought together key stakeholders from six counties including Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, River Cess and Grand Bassa.

 Each consultative meeting was attended by Legislators, political parties, civil society organizations and heads of sub-national administrative structures.

 The Decentralization Program is funded by the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP). -Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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