President Koroma says that in the last five years, his government ensured the biggest financial transfers to local councils in the history of the nation.
Speaking while delivering the oath of office to the Mayor , Chairman and councilors of the Freetown City Council and Western Rural Council at Miatta Conference Centre yesterday, the President said,
“We gave local councils irrespective of which political parties are in control, billions of Leones to implement development programmes in their localities” he stated.
This he said, has enabled local councils to scale up the provision of social services including the primary and secondary health, primary , Junior and Secondary education, agriculture, water supply and solid waste management.
“We will do more in the Agenda for Prosperity. We will continue to give billions to Local Councils. We will continue to build capacity of local councils; continue to ensure that Local Councils are fully functional and effectively delivering services in their local communities.
We will do more in the Agenda for Prosperity. We will introduce legislation on Local Councils finance and property taxation that clearly establish procedures for revenue collection and sharing between Local and Chiefdom councils” the President said.
President Koroma further told the councils that the central government will do more, but they must also do more. “I promise to support you to do more, that is, why we are strengthening the Local revenue generation capacities by supporting the development of property and business license register for local councils. We will ensure that all the 19 Local Councils in the next five years benefit from this support. We will continue to support local government monitoring systems introduce social accountability mechanism and enhance the role of civil society in the decentralization process.
He thanked all the Mayors, Chairpersons and Councilors who supported his government in the last five years in ensuring the realization of the objectives of the Agenda for Change.
President Koroma further congratulated the newly elected Mayor, Chairman and councilors; it is my hope and the expectation of every Sierra Leonean that you will seize this opportunity to contribute significantly in the development of your locality.
However, he reminded them that in electing them, the people have reposed their trust in them as they want all of them to work together. “They want you to effectively represent them and they demand that you honor and uphold that confidence throughout your tenure of four years”.
The President stated that they have entered into a social contract and are part of Government and must be effective and disciplined partners in the transformation of the country.
“In the Agenda for Change, we shall focus on youths training and employment and continue the restoration of discipline, law and order in society.
He maintained that “we have vowed to attract more investment by diversifying the economy and continue with free health care, small-holder commercialization and infrastructural development”.
In his statement, the Mayor of Freetown, Sam Franklyn Gibson on behalf of the WARDC and FCC councilors, thanked all those who made the inauguration a reality.
He said that they were aware that citizens expectations are high, but pledged that these expectations will not be misplaced. “By God’s grace, we will transform our localities into sanctuaries of healthy, wealthy, productive and educated citizens”, he said.
Mayor Gibson encouraged all to pay their bills, assuring that this time their respective administrations will be transparent and fully accountable for every Leone collected.
Minister of Local Government Rural Development (MLGRD) Ambassador Dauda Kamara said that after the ceremony these councilors should begin to perform duties for which they were elected- that is to provide community services to their localities.
He observed that all of them have been elected under the banner All peoples Congress party , however, in your work in this whole city of Freetown, as you work in your locality , you must be political party colour- blind in the implementation of service delivery programmes, and each person must be served equally irrespective of their party.
“We must know by now that Local Council is the principal political development agency created by central government to serve communities. In this respect you are not an independent entity; you are regulated by law and tied to the policy of supervisory ministries of local government within the arm of government”, he said.
The Minister stated that government is committed in improving the lives and development of this nation. He reiterated that in the course of the ensuing four years, for which they have been elected, more responsibilities will be devolved to them, as Government’s agenda is vigorously pursued. He said councilors are at the frontline in this and they must improve their capacity to deliver services devolved to them.
“I entreat you Councilors to work together as a, family as a council to be able to meet the expectations of your people and by extension the expectation of central government. Be careful in your work, try to be frank and be honest to your people for you cannot meet all of their expectations, but serve them well, honestly and transparently”.
By Abibatu Kamara