The government of the West African state of Liberia continues to struggle to obtain resources to meet its obligations including the holding of a national census.
The West African Journal Magazine correspondent in Monrovia reports that due to the inability of the Government of Liberia to provide 50 percent of the funds needed to carry out the national census, members of the country’s 54 th National Legislature have decided to postpone the census slated for March 26, 2018.
In its 12 th day sitting on Tuesday, a communication from the Representative of the political sub-division of Nimba County Larry Younquoi was submitted to body on the issue of the National Census of 2018. The communication was read and following deliberations, it was forwarded to the House’s leadership for appropriate action.
Following arguments and counter arguments by lawmakers, Members on the House voted for the leadership to meet members of the Liberian Senate to decide on a Joint Resolution that will enable the postponement of the conduct of the National Population and Housing Census in line with the provision of the 1986 Constitution.
Political pundits are wondering whether members of the National Legislature will postpone the census to March 2019 as this could lead to what many believe to be a Constitutional crisis if the Census is postponed.
According to Article 29 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, “The Legislature shall cause a
Census of the Republic to be undertaken every ten years.” But the most contentious issue now is that it has been revealed that the Government of Liberia has not been able to provide 50 percent of the money needed to the conduct the census.
The last National Census of Liberia was conducted in in 2008, setting the population at 3.5 million. This year (2018) makes it exactly ten years since the last Census was conducted.
According to information gathered from credible sources, Liberia’s development partners were expected to provide 50 percent of the money and the Liberian government would provide the remaining 50 percent for the US$20 million needed to conduct the census.
Rep. Younquoi’s letter to Members of the National Legislature said the need for a lawful
National Population and Housing Census cannot be overemphasized. He however, added that due to the lack of funding, his colleagues should go through a Joint Resolution to postpone the Census to a date that falls within the appropriate timeframe that is internationally acceptable within the next seven years or before 2025.
Rep. Younquoi alerted that his colleagues about the looming constitutional crisis hovering over the nation in the wake of the seeming inability to undertake the National Population and Housing Census in line with the provision of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
The lawmaker disclosed that March 26 of this year will make it exactly ten years since the last National Housing and Population Census was conducted by the Liberian Government. with assistance from its partners.
He urged members of the House to liaise with the Liberian Senate to take appropriate
steps to ensure that the necessary legal actions to avert the looming constitutional crisis that may affect the conduct of census.
During Tuesday’s legislative session, Rep. Younqoui expressed optimism that the reminder to his colleagues will give the urgency thereby engendering the availability of a reliable socio-economic data for the country.
Judging from what is obtaining at the moment, it appears that Liberia is losing out on meeting the constitutionally mandated deadline of March 26, 2018.
The population data from the 2018 Census, when held, will play a major role in the formulation of constituency boundaries for the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
The data is also expected to be used for socio-economic development planning, monitoring of government development programs, and international interventions.
Information filtering in the corridors of the Capitol Building revealed that members of the House are expected to put their signatures to the Joint Resolution with at least 37 signatures needed to have the document transferred to the Senate, where 20 signatures are also needed to postpone the 2018 national census.
International non-governmental organizations including the World Bank, in 2016, estimated Liberia’s population to be 4.6 million. The unemployment rate of the poor West African country increased to 4 percent in 2016 from a level of 3.90 percent in 2015. The average unemployment rate in the country was about 7.13 percent from 1980 up to 2016.
It reached an all time high of 15.90 percent in 1983. The record low of 3.60 percent was reported in 2014.
By Lincoln Barcon in Monrovia
West African Journal Magazine