LIBERIA: MIA and Partners verify the establishment of County Councils

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has led a mission with its partners from Irish Aid, Sweden, and UNDP to verify the processes leading to the establishment of County Councils across the country as part of the implementation of the Local Government Act.

Chapter 2.2 of the LGA calls for the establishment of a County Council in each County with the powers to promulgate County ordinances, impose local taxes, authorize the issuance of certain licenses, and approve development plans and annual budgets, among others.

Prior to the election of members of the 15 county councils, the MIA issued a set of criteria to guide the processes which were conducted by the National Elections Commission with representatives from Nongovernment Organizations and civil society as observers, to ensure transparency and broad-based participation.

At one of the verification exercises in Gbarnga Bong County, Deputy MIA Minister Olayee Collins reiterated that the mission was necessary to validate whether the election of representatives to the nine-member County Council was done in accordance with the Chapter 2, subsection 2.3 of the Local Government Act.

Collins reminded the Council that it is neither an administrative nor a legislative body but represents a broad spectrum of the society elected by its national constituencies/organizations to work in the interest of the people of Liberia.

He said the Councils will be responsible to work with the county leadership and discuss and decide on the potential for growth.

“The County Council is not an employment opportunity where members will receive salaries or use their positions to intimidate others.  Your role is to take decisions on development initiatives that will affect the lives of Liberians across the country,” Collins emphasized.

On behalf of UNDP, the head of its governance pillar James Monibah urged representatives to the council to see themselves as servants delivering services that support development policies for the people of Liberia.

“Government work is about service to the people and your participation as members of the County Council is to give more power to the people. You have been given an opportunity to participate in the country’s national development plan and make decisions to improve the basic needs of the people, it is expected that you will exhibit transparency and be accountable to your people,” Monibah stressed.

The verification exercise in Bong County was witnessed by Godo E. Kolubah Senior Program Advisor (governance) of Irish Aid and the Governance Program Officer at the Swedish Embassy Nikolina Stalhand.

They applauded the government and county leadership along with participating groups for the level of transparency in the processes and pledged continued support to the implementation of the LGA.

On her part, Bong County Superintendent Esther Walker promised that the county authority will work with the Council to fully implement the LGA and move the county forward. She expressed gratitude to the MIA and its partners for their support of Liberia.

The nine-member County Council is composed of representatives from the Council of Chiefs, Women groups, Civil Society and youth groups, and People Living with Disabilities (PWDs).

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