By Jackson C. Clay, Jr.
The plenary of the Liberian Senate has begun debates on the Local Government Bill for subsequent passage into law by that august body.
Sen. Gbleh bo Browne
The plenary of the Liberian Senate which is the highest decision-making body of the Senate started debates Thursday, during its regular session held on Capitol Hill.
This debate was as a result of a presentation made by the Senate committee on Local Government, Peace and Reconciliation, Senator Gbleh-Bo Brown of Maryland County.
Making his presentation, Senator Brown said the Bill when passed into law would decentralized government’s activities and dedicate powers to local citizens in the implementations of government policies and development at the local levels.
“We feel that decentralization is the way to go to develop our country and provide local economy development for our people. When this Bill is passed, it is going to give power to our people, we are going to have participatory planning at the county level and citizens are to participate in how to run the country,” Senator Brown stressed.
The Maryland County lawmaker indicated that the Bill provides for every county to have a county development plan on how to go about development within their various counties and this would bring about ownership.
He stated that the overall goal of this Bill is to bring about peace throughout the length and breadth of the entire country, noting that when citizens begin to own development as a result of this process they would derive what he calls sustainability.
Senator Brown also stated that the Bill would create and promote local economy development within the counties when passed into law, thus, the law would allow each county to collect its own revenues and said revenue would be used to carry out development within those counties.
The Senate Committee chairman on Local Government, Peace and Reconciliation asserted that the Act would at the same time set a standard for the creation of cities across the country and dissolve all those that do not meet those standards.
However, he noted that the political will to implement this Bill and the creation of boundaries between counties remain the two major challenges to the passage of the Bill.
In separate comments, Senators Steve Zargo, Sando Johnson and Oscar Cooper of Lofa, Bomi and Margibi Counties have all expressed optimism over the Bill but raised some points that need to be addressed.
Sen. Zargo wants the issue of too many cities in one county be looked at seriously, adding that there are so many things that make up a city.
Sen. Johnson wants the issue of boundaries properly addressed so as to avoid what he calls future embarrassment for the Bill when passed into law.
While, Sen. Cooper wants the Liberian Senate to have the political guts to do justice to the Bill before its passage because according to him, if this is not done the true intent of the Bill would not be realized.
Senator Cooper indicated that he is totally for decentralization of the country because according to him it would generate revenue and for the betterment of the country.