President George Manneh Weah has signed into law the Local Government (LGA) and the Liberia Land Right Acts (LLRA) respectively; the two cardinal legal instruments that are considered germane to the Government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
Recently, the 54th National Legislature passed the two Acts into Law following years of shilly-shallying by the 53rdLegislature apparently aimed at fine-tuning the two instruments to be in line with current national and international realities. They were introduced during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
According to an Executive Mansion release, Dr. Weah signed the Acts into law on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
In brief remarks, President Weah said he was happy to sign the two instruments into law, which according to him he worked on during his tenure at the Senate and noted that both instruments are also important for the development of the country and the well-being of its citizens.
The Liberian leader used the occasion to digress a bit into Economics as it as relates to land and labor, stating that Liberia is blessed to have both assets. “Land and labor are intertwined; one cannot be without the other. If you have land and there is no labor, you have a problem because land is an asset,” he said.
“To develop our country, we have to do the right thing for our people; and I think, among the things we proposed, this is the key component while we anticipate other development initiatives.”
President Weah then thanked both Houses of the National Legislature for the collaboration that led to the successful passage of both Acts.
Senior government officials, Traditional leaders, county superintendents, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, representatives of the civil society as well as a cross-section of Liberians attended the signing ceremony; the second to be performed by President Weah since he assumed the Presidency a little over eight months ago.
The Land Rights Act seeks to strengthen rights over customary land. Lands without deeds are classified as public land, a practice Rights groups claimed government uses to give large swathes of land to private investors as concessions.
Under the law, a community’s claim of ownership of customary land will be established by evidence including oral testimonies of community members, maps, signed agreements between neighboring communities and any other confirming documents.
The new law will require a nationwide survey to confirm the boundaries of all customary lands. The survey will be conducted by the Liberia Land Authority within 24 months of the effective date of the Act. Under the law, a maximum of ten percent of customary lands in each community will be set aside and allocated as public land.