The City of Gbarnga in Central Liberia last week played host to another historic event, occasioning the launch of the first phase of the government’s de-concentration program.
Launching the de-concentration program at the Gbarnga Administration Building, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced a number of reform measures that would affect the country’s governance system.
The reform measures give more power to local government authorities, with county superintendents empowered to coordinate and manage the delivery of all government services in their counties.
While still getting technical guidance from line ministries and agencies of government, employees of such ministries and agencies in the counties – while continuously in the employ the line ministries and agencies, shall fall under the coordination of county superintendents administratively with immediate effect.
Under the de-concentration program, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in coordination and collaboration with all ministries and agencies, shall immediately coordinate a process to harmonize the finance, procurement, human resource, audits, monitoring and evaluation of services within the counties to avoid the multiplication of these services in each ministry and agency.
The line ministries and agencies shall delegate authority for the implementation of agreed county-based projects to heads of line ministries county-based implementation units, who will then operate within the local coordinating mechanism, said President Sirleaf while launching the new system of governance for the country, stressing that to achieve such administrative reforms, which will only be successful if they are complemented by fiscal initiatives, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning will expedite the establishment of county treasuries, beginning with the four already identified and thereafter proceed quickly with the rest of the counties.
The final goal, according to the Liberian Chief Executive, is to see a Liberia de-centralized and de-concentration.
Under the first phase of the de-concentration process, 45 services, including the issuance of drivers’ licenses, license plates, birth certificates, business registrations and the payment of taxes into government revenue will be de-concentrated to the various counties.
From where we sit, we envisioned this system as one to reduce the un-necessary bureaucratic hurdles which characterize services to the people, especially when such services are centralized in Monrovia.
While this new system of governance may be welcomed, the issue of effective implementation to achieve the expected goal matters most.
This is why guidance for every step forward must be very effective and efficient, and should there be any short-circuit, the immediate corrective measures must be taken in the interest of progress towards goal achievement.
We are of the fervent belief that anything short of the foregoing may just be another waste of energy, time and resources.
Nevertheless, progenitors of such new system of governance, as well as partners under whose sponsorship we will now have needed services decentralized, must be hailed for such national initiatives. The President, without whose ‘blessing’ such initiative would not have been a reality, must also be commended.
We can only hope that with the commitment of us all, this national de-concentration program will actually work.