Giving his Keynote Address at the opening of the programme which attracted Local Councils Core Staff, including, Chief Administrators, Finance Officers, Development Planning Officers, Civil Works Officers and Monitoring and Evaluation Officers, the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Philip TetemaTondoneh on behalf the minister, said his ministry undertook the regional fourth round of oath–taking by elected officials of the Local Council, the second tier of their governance structure following the conclusion of the Local Government elections in March, 2018 as prescribed by the Local Government Act 2004.
The essence he said was to give legitimacy to the elected officials in order to commence the business of providing the required political leadership for their respective Local Councils. He emphasised the importance of the role of councillors in governance and service delivery, pointing out that this expectation can only be met after the requite skills, knowledge and enabling environment has been created for them.
He disclosed that they have advanced discussions with the Ministry of Finance to provide funds for a nationwide orientation and induction exercise for the newly-elected officials, following the end of the World Bank funded DSDP 2 project.
A representative from UNDP, Edward Gbemeh said over the years, UNDP has forged a closely knit relationship with Sierra Leone through various government ministries. He disclosed that since 2012 to date, UNDP has provided both technical and financial support to the decentralisation process as well as well as other areas such as records management, revenue generation for Local Councils, review of councils’ development plans with over four million US Dollars. He further said that through the South-South Cooperation, UNDP has supported the Ministry of Local Government to gain and share experiences on how decentralisation works in Ghana, Rwanda and South Africa.
Key among recommendations preferred during the interactive sessions were, the need to transform the Association of Local Councils in Sierra Leone into a vibrant entity that will effectively promote the welfare of its members, government to fully implement the decentralization process, improve the condition of service of staff of local councils, provide substantial resources to enable them deliver well and the need for councils to raise public awareness and ensure policy makers, especially members of Parliament are aware of their operations.