President George M. Weah has signed into law the Local Government and the Liberia Land Rights Acts.
The ceremony took place at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia. It followed the passage of the two Instruments by the Liberian Legislature.
UNDP has over the years, significantly invested resources into these programmes alongside other partners, with a political push by the former UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and funding from donors-EU, Sweden, USAID, as well as Assessed Funding Contributions among others.
President Weah said the Local Government and the Liberia Land Rights Acts are key components of his administration’s development agenda.
“I want to thank the both Houses, the Speaker and our international partners who have been with us throughout this difficult task. I think it was necessary for the time it took (for the passage of the laws at the Legislature), now we are realizing the dividend. I hope that our people will own the land, respect the rules and guidelines surrounding land and make sure that it brings economic dividend to the generation and the country,” Pres. Weah said.
He said his administration remains committed to working with partners and friendly governments to ensuring that the right policies and legislations are developed for the up-liftment of the people and the development of the country.
The signing into law of these key instruments lays the groundwork for tackling major reforms on land and in local governance, backed by law.
“This Government is embarking on a major undertaking, its Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development. Today’s signing is going to be the propeller of that Agenda, because it’s really about creating opportunities for a great number of Liberians not in Monrovia, but out there in Liberia,” said Yacoub El Hillo UN Resident Coordinator.
Mr. Hillo said the signing of the laws marks the first time in more than 170 years that “Monrovia will be delegating authority to the counties” and also the first time that the country will be regulating and managing its most valuable land resources”.
He stated that the United Nations is proud to have partnered with the Liberian government and people for the passage of the two laws.
“We celebrate today, but I also say, the work starts today. Signing these laws today is going to be the beginning of a long process, a very long process of changing the way things have been done for a very longtime,” the UN Resident Coordinator said.
He stated that moving forward in the implementation of the laws will require the commitment of the government and all of its partners including the UN.
He added: “We’re committed to stand the course; we’re committed to work with the government and people of Liberia for the operationalization of these cardinal laws, because these will be the propellers for Liberia’s transformation and the pursuit of the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.”
For his part, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf said the signing of the two laws by the President “is history making” and shows the Liberian Leader’s commitment to lifting the people and including them into the decision-making process of the country.
“These two Acts will add value to our citizens; will give rights to our citizen and will give more power to our traditional leaders of our country,” Minister Sirleaf said.
He thanked President Weah for his expressed political will and the leadership of the National Legislature for the passage of the key instruments.
The Internal Affairs Minister said the signing ceremony would not have been made possible with the support of the UNDP, EU, Sweden, USAID and other partners.
The Ambassadors of Sweden and the United States also made remarks at the ceremony.