Liberia: 8 CSOs Want HOR Approve CSDF’s Stand Alone Law
Monrovia – At least eight Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have re-echoed their campaign calling on members of the Joint Committee, scrutinizing the ‘Act to Establish a National County Social Development Fund (CSDF) or Stand Alone Law,’ to recommend passage of bill to the full Plenary to promote accountability and developments.
The CSOs are the implementing partners of the USAID-funded Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI), which are also members of the Natural Resource Management (NRM), which aims to advocate for and monitor policy and accountability reforms for the CSDF in the country.
They include the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), Liberia Media Center (LMC), Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy in Liberia (CUPPADL), Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-Liberia), Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP), Rural Human Rights Activists Program (RHRAP) and NAYMOTE.
At the first public hearing of the CSDF’s Stand Alone Law, held on Friday, March 8, in the House, Mr. Harold Aidoo, Executive Director of IREDD, said the CSDF Law is a revolution for the people of Liberia because for the first time in 160 years, Liberians are deciding what to be constructing.
The IREDD boss on behalf of members of the NRM argued that the bill when approved, will ensure the effectiveness in the utilization of the County Development Fund (CDF) and the Social Development Fund (SDF) which is jointly known as the County Social Development Fund (CSDF).
“We want to the House to expeditiously pass it into law so as to enable the desired impact of the CSDF dawn of the lives of Liberians, as was initially envisaged,” Aidoo said.
In further support of the bill, Mr. Sampson Williams, National Program Assistant of the SDI and Mr. Lorma Baysah, Executive Director of RHRAP in separate statements said their organization were part of the advocacy and investigation, which showed that most of Liberians want the CSDF should be amended as a Stand Alone Law.
Mr. Augustus Zayzay of LAVI, told lawmakers that CSDF Law promotes accountability, women participation, CSOs representations and monitoring roles, guidelines as well as strengthen Legislative oversight.
According to the CSDF Law, the foremost standing amendment in the CSDF’s Stand Alone Law is “All funds allocated in the budget directly to a county as National County Social Development Funds (CSDF), and any other funds collected in the name and on behalf of the county, directly or indirectly, shall first be transferred to an Escrow Account.”
The CSOs claimed that all the funds allocated in the budget directly to county as National County Social Development Funds, in the tone of US$3m (US$200,000 for each county), and any other funds collected in the name and on behalf of the county, directly or indirectly, must be in the Escrow Account.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Joint Committee, Rep. Thomas P. Fallah while the co-chairman, Rep. J. Fonati Koffa said the law has some lapses and must be improved upon. Rep. Matthew Zarzar buttressed.
Rep. Francis Dopoh of River Gee County District #3 argued that though the law seems good, to be a Stand Alone, but he expressed fear of overlying and conflict against the already approved Local Governance Act.
Lofa County District #5 Representative Beyan Howard frown on the ‘CSDF’ giving exclusive right to women to form part of County Sitting, arguing that most of the laws ignored physically challenged women.
Nimba County District #8 Representative and sponsor of the Bill, Larry Younquoi and Montserrado County District #2 Representative Jimmy Smith pledged their support to the Bill.