Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly has explained that the de-concentration platform is not intended to give the functions or powers of line ministries to County Superintendents.
Mr. Dukuly who made the comment recently in Gbarnga, Bong County said Superintendents will coordinate to make government work better and efficient.
He said with the de-concentration platform, MACs [Media Access Controls] can concentrate on the technical expertise in providing the best quality of services.
“We are aware that the anxiety of many of us in government is that of losing territory and maybe authority,” he said.
“However, what we are proposing in De-concentration is that the units deployed to the counties will coordinate the day-to-day operations of their work with the County Superintendent, while reporting into the technical ministries will continue directly for the technical aspects,” said Mr. Dukuly.
In the short-term, he said, financial resources will be managed by each ministry, but with the full knowledge of the County Administration.
And gradually, Mr. Dukuly continued, government will move to a medium-term plan to have financial resources managed by county administration through the County Treasuries of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
The Internal Affairs Minister told President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and partners at the ceremony that it is possible to adopt and pursue a two-track approach in government’s effort to implement decentralization.
According to him, Track One which he described as more pragmatic responds to the “immediate need for citizens to receive critical services.”
In Track Two, Mr. Dukuly explained that government will continue to make preparations for the more devolved local governance, something he said is being anticipated in the 10-year timeline when local leaders will be elected and empowered to assume the functions envisaged in the draft Local Government Act.
But he says this will require legislative instruments which are within frame work of decentralization [to] guarantee a non-reversal in the gains to decentralize as governments change in Liberia.
Already, Mr. Dukuly says 12 ministries and two agencies have identified a total of 45 services that are packaged into the de-concentration platform which according to him are ready to de-concentrate immediately.
He said discussions were continuing with the ministries which are not reflected at this point, including the Education, Agriculture and integrity institutions such as the Internal Audit Agency, LACC and PPCC, among others.
Notwithstanding, the Internal Affairs boss announced that a major planned activity for all the Counties will be the establishment of the County Service Centers or CSC.
Fifty percent of the services outlined in the de-concentration platform to be de-concentrated by the MACs revolve around registration, licensing, issuance of permits, and certificates, he added, saying CSC will be established in each County Administration Building.
He said the approach makes it possible to deliver 50 percent of the listed services by the end of 2015.
Mr. Dukuly warned, however, that while de-concentration gives improved services, it falls short of really devolved participation, and therefore urged that “we cannot and must not stop at only de-concentration.”
He pledged the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ commitment to work hard with Dr. Amos Sawyer, Chairman of Governance Commission and Co-Chair of the Liberia Decentralization Program, the Legislature and partners to conclude the draft local government act, which will see Liberia actualize the type of government President Sirleaf promised to deliver to Liberians.
Mr. Dukuly says county superintendents have been instructed to immediately identify adequate office space to accommodate the CSC, specifically to find 250 acres of land as has been agreed to host the county headquarters in enforcement of President Sirleaf’s order.
In the last quarter of 2014, the initiative was supported by a contribution of 4.5 million Euros from the European Union and $350,000 from UNDP, thereby enabling MIA to regroup and review the progress.
By Winston W. Parley