No Room For Closed Society Again…Says Indep. Info. Commission Chair

The Commissioner of the Independent Information Commission, Counselor Mark Bedor-Wla Freeman says the days when Liberia was considered a “closed society” are gradually phasing out.

He said before now Liberia has been operating as a “closed society”, noting that the establishment of an Independent Information Commission to ensure that public information is accessible to all is closing this dark chapter in Liberia’s history.

Cllr. Freeman made the observation on Wednesday, October 9 during the official launch of the Ministry of Agriculture Website held at the Ministry’s head office in Gardnersville. The website created with funding from the World Bank, the Japanese Trust Fund and the Liberian Government, has two portals: www.cariliberia.org and www.waappliberia.org.

Commissioner Freeman commended the Agriculture Ministry for taking the bold step to establish a website, noting that his commission as the agency with the statutory mandate to ensure access to freedom of information is highly pleased with such endeavors.

Cllr. Freeman observed that access to information ensures accountability and transparency, with the dividends of promoting investment and economic growth. “There will be no suspicion once information is made available to the public. No investor will be pleased to invest in a country where information is not made available to the public,” the Independent Information Commissioner observed.

He added that access to information also ensures peace and stability because, he noted, “when you open up and let people know what is on the ground, you will manage their expectations.”

Cllr. Freeman also observed that access to information fosters peace in society, noting that money that should have been used for peace keeping purposes can be used to build schools, hospitals or roads, among others. The Independent Information Commissioner reiterated his call on public agencies that have not appointed information officers to do so, and assured them of his commission’s support in building their capacities.

Performing the launching ceremony, Deputy Agriculture Minister for Administration, Madam Seklau Elizabeth Wiles who served as proxy for Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweth, urged all departments within the ministry to keep the website current by making available to the webmaster reports of their activities as they happen.

She said there was need to keep the website current to let the public and international community know what the Ministry is doing.

In special remarks, Dr. Abimbola A. Adubi, Task Team Leader of the World Bank sponsored West Africa Agriculture Project(WAAPP) also commended the Agriculture Ministry for taking advantage of the

opportunity at its disposal. He observed that the objective of the website is to enhance the visibility of the ministry and showcase its activities.

He said the World Bank was pleased to be part of sponsors of the project, and urged officials of the ministry to ensure that the website which is linked to social media like Facebook and Twitter, is updated regularly.

The social media part of the website, Dr. Adubi noted, will give an opportunity to Liberians in the Diaspora to respond to and participate in activities of the ministry.

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