-As decentralization kicks off in Gbarnga
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Wednesday announced several reform measures that would affect the country’s system of governance and give more power to local government authorities under its de-concentration program.
Under the new measures, which were pronounced, as the President launched the first phase of the country’s de-centralization program, counties superintendents have been conferred with the authority to coordinate and manage the delivery of all government services in their counties.
All ministries and agencies staff employ in the counties while continuing to be employed by their line ministries and agencies shall fall under the coordination of the counties superintendents administratively, while getting technical guidance from the line ministries and agencies.
President Sirleaf who said these directives take immediate effect said 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.
“This means you won’t have security for every ministry and agency or watchman for every ministry and agency,” Mrs. Sirleaf said.
“The Ministry of Internal Affairs, she added, “is directed to begin the process of developing a professional local government civil service with support from the civil service 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,” Mrs. Sirleaf continued.
She said to achieve the above administrative reforms which will only be successful if they are complemented by fiscal initiatives, the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning has been directed to expedite the establishment of county treasuries beginning with the four already identified and thereafter proceed quickly with the rest of the counties.
“To make it possible for all government employees to receive their salaries in their accounts in their counties. This directive is intended to provide support to ministries, like the ministry of education and health…” she said.
President Sirleaf said the final goal is to see a Liberia de-centralized and de-concentration.
The first phase of the de-concentration process will see 45 services being de-concentrated into the various counties. Among the services are the issuance of drivers’ licenses, license plates, birth certificates, business registrations and the payment of taxes into government revenue, things which have been centralized for decades.
The second phase of the decentralization process will include the election of county superintendents and other local government officials.
The governance commission and the Ministry of Internal Affairs have been mandated to work alongside other partners in ensuring that the legislation to the process is presented for passage before the legislature to kick off phase two.