The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Internal Affair has for the first time reported revenue generated from Service Centers in Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, and Nimba Counties, totaling 4,295,975.00 Liberian dollars.
The County Service Centers were established by government in its efforts to take direct service to the people. According to the MIA, from July 1, 2015 to May 2016 the Grand Bassa County Service Center reported 5,127 service users, with total revenue of LD4,295,975.00, while over a short period of time, April to May 2016, the other three county service centers reported a total of 3,663 service users, and a revenue of LD1, 289,805.00.
The county service centers were recently launched in four counties, including Grand Bassa, Bong, Margibi and Nimba, respectively. The exercise is aimed at taking direct service delivery to citizens in rural parts of the country.
Services being offered at those centers include issuance of Business Registration, Birth Certificates, Driver License, Marriage Certificate and Documentations, among others. Addressing journalist Tuesday, June 28, in a joint press conference held under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Information in Buchannan, Grand Bassa County, the Minister of Internal Affairs Dr. Henrinque Tokpa said, “Our gathering here today speaks to the commitment of our President and a clear manifestation and determination to bring the government closer to the people.”
Minister Tokpa said in 2012, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf launched the National Policy on Decentralization, and Local Governance, at which time she promised that Monrovia will no longer be the only center of power and source of development policymaking.
He the President launched the national policy on decentralization and local governance to ensure that citizens are active partners with government in the governance of their local communities and counties. The Internal Affairs boss narrated that the government then decided to develop a two-pronged approach which include track 1 ; decentralization of documentations service through the establishment of county service centers, and non- documentation service, coordination and participation, while track 2 include long term activities – drafting and passing of local government Act and the establishment of the Ministry of Local Government.
He said the government approach to decentralization is in three folds, which include Administrative, Fiscal, and Political, adding that the launch of the National Deconcentration platform in February, 2012 set the basis for the effective service delivery.
“Our approach was to create county service centers in all counties; a county service center is a one stop shop where documentation relating to permits, license, and certificate are offered at the same cost and quality as they are in Monrovia.”
Minister Topka said at the launch, 14 ministries, agencies, and commission were identified to deconcentrate their specialized services from Monrovia. He added that prior to the launch, a rapid assessment was carried out to determine the readiness of counties and several counties were identified, including Margibi, Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Sinoe, and Grand Gedeh Counties.
According to him, others identified lack desire infrastructure, including Bomi, River Cess, Grand Kru, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, and Montserrado Counties. However, he stressed that government can’t do all, so it requires support of the citizens to take ownership, and participate saying, “I therefore urge all citizens to make good use of the service near them”, while paying tributes development partners – EU, the Swedish government, USAID, UNMIL, and UNDP for financial support.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne