Liberia: Renowned Economist Admonishes Government to Depoliticize the Civil Service Agency
MONROVIA – Renowned Liberian Economist, Alieu Fuad Nyei has called for the depoliticizing of the government’s civil service in order to promote effective service delivery. Mr. Nyei, a Harvard trained Economist, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Policy Analysis & Research.
Serving as a panelist alongside the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, Central Bank of Liberia’s Executive Governor, J. Aloysius Tarlue, and the Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Aidar Abdychev, during the launch of Liberia Economic update on Finding Fiscal Space on Friday, Mr. Nyei said a civil service that operates under the influence of politicians will undermine government’s ability to attract and retain a qualified and professional workforce.
“Also important to the whole process is ensuring that we have a technically competent civil service that is completely depoliticized because the Civil service is a core group of people that are protected by tenure position based on the Civil Service law,” he said.
The Weah-led government, from its inception, struggled to enforce the mandate from the IMF to slash the wage bill and retrench workers amid massive pressure from partisans and ruling party hierarchy as well as lawmakers, seeking employment for their relatives, friends and loved ones for jobs.
Offering suggestions on how to improve governance and service delivery in Liberia, he said, “We have the politicians who are those that are appointed by regimes. So, we need to ensure that in whatever reforms we do, that we insulate the civil service from the influence of politicians because if we do don’t do that, we will have a situation where a minister can make changes to his staff in his ministry any time he wants. And then the ability to attract, retain and even train existing staff will be significantly undermined.”
He spoke during the launch of Second Edition of the annual Liberia Economic Update, “Finding Fiscal Space.”
In the report, the World Bank Liberia Country Office lauded the Liberian Government for successfully stabilizing the macroeconomy. However, the World Bank called on the Government to create enough fiscal space to finance the country’s massive investment needs in physical infrastructure: power/energy, roads, rails, ports, and airports.
In addition, it said Liberia needs to invest in its people and institutions, and create an educated, skilled, and healthy labor force, in both the public or private sectors, and protect its economy and vulnerable population against repeated exogenous shocks.
In order to achieve this, Mr. Nyei noted the government needs to focus more on service delivery institutions in terms of assessing the human resource capacity, and ensuring reforms that lead to improvements in service delivery outcomes are prioritized.
“We need to look at the core issues surrounding the competency we have in our civil servants. Because if we talk about efficiency in service delivery, these are the core groups of people that we depend on in order to deliver services. Issues around hiring, and attracting competent people into the civil service, is very important.”
He also called on the need to prioritize citizens’ engagement, transparency and accountability in the governance system.
Also speaking, the IMF Resident Representative, Aidar Abdychev lauded the government for the progress over its ‘ambitious program aimed at creating microeconomic stability. He outlined a string of achievements as the result of these programs; among them the decrease in inflation, increased in the domestic tax rate and appreciation of the exchange rate.
He revealed that the IMF Country office will be recommending to the IMF Board for the continuation of support towards the programs and expressed hope that their request will be granted.