Cllr. Varney Sherman, the national orator at Liberia’s 166th Independence Day celebration has called for the vetting of Superintendents of Liberia’s Sub-political division before their appointment by the President of the Republic.
Cllr. Sherman said it is provided by the Constitution that nearly every member of local government administration, except the chiefs, should be appointed by the President of Liberia.
However, he suggested to the President of Liberia that she consider some level of decentralization of the governance of Liberia under a formula which provides that those who are appointed by her are first vetted and agreed upon by a local council of each county.
Delivering his oration last Friday at the Tubmanburg City Hall in Bomi County, Cllr. Sherman said, “You will appoint whomever is nominated, subject to exercising the authority to dismiss him or her or otherwise sanction him or her if the local council recommends and proves to your satisfaction the need for dismissal or other form of sanction”.
Cllr. Sherman who is also the Chairman of the governing Unity Party (UP) said, while this formula, which could be initiated by an executive order and later transformed to a legislative enactment, would appear to be a sharing of our constitutional prerogatives with the local people of each political constituency of Liberia, is the considered opinion that it would not violate the Constitution.
“You know I am a lawyer and you know that I am not a “falkajay” lawyer. More importantly, I dare submit that such new process will begin the experience which will be necessary to make political decentralization a success in this country,” Cllr. Sherman said in a serious mood.
Speaking further Cllr. Sherman said, “I dare also suggest that decentralization of political governance does not consist merely of granting local people the authority to choose or participate in the process for choosing their local leaders.”
He argued that the case of decentralization of political governance would be equated to the granting of authority without the power to exercise it or the responsibility that is attended to it.
“In addition to a change of the selection process for local government leaders, certain defined responsibilities should devolve on local government officials as their exclusive domains, with only supervisory responsibility reserved to the President of Liberia,” Sherman said.
The Unity Party Chairman also suggested that independent sources of revenue (e.g. property taxes) to finance certain local government operations should be reserved for local governments.
He also suggested that Liberia goes another step further to adopt the policy of “revenue sharing” insofar as the revenue is generated from natural resources exploited from a political sub-division.
“And when I suggest revenue-sharing, I hasten to add that I don’t subscribe to certain provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, which requires that all revenues for the Liberian Government should be deposited into a consolidated fund at the Central Bank of Liberia in the name of the Ministry of Finance, he added.
Cllr. Sherman said revenue sharing should actually be what the expression literally means – that a certain percentage of the revenue generated from the exploitation of natural resources be for the county where the deposits are located and that the payers of the revenue pay that percentage directly to the local government’s administration, obtain a receipt and report the payment to the Ministry of Finance for the purpose of appropriate record-keeping and accountability.
Cllr. Sherman said he was making these recommendations even while he recognize and give credit to the policies and programs of county development funds and social development funds, which no government before the Ellen Johnson Administration ever thought about.
Cllr. Sherman said, “I make these recommendations fully aware of the problems associated with the management of the county development funds and social development funds. I still make these recommendations because I believe that these recommendations facilitate more direct participation of the people in deciding their destinies and in determining what is good for them; and as such more direct participation of the people in determining what is good for them enhances peace and reconciliation as a foundation for transformation of our country.” Writes, Timothy T. Seaklon