Monrovia - Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia (CABICOL) has said that the Land Rights Bill is crucial and should properly be reviewed before it is passed into law.
CABICOL said the bill must protect the rights of women and youth to own, manage and transfer land; contain accountable safeguard for community land ownership.
“It should also protect communities from losing their farm land on which they depend for living; promote free, prior and informed consent of communities for agriculture and economic development of the land,” the Catholic Bishops further said.
“Our attention was therefore drawn to the Land Rights Bill during our meeting. We recognize that this is a serious issue that calls for sober and cautious approach. We invite the government, community leaders, stakeholders and all Liberians to seek education, make prayerful reflections and engage in sober dialogue on this matter.”
CABICOL recommended that there should be continuous dialogue. “We must have or continue to have serious discussions, on all levels in order to ensure that the bill does not become a recipe of contention rather than an instrument of peace and reconciliation. “
The Catholic Church’s statement was derived during its plenary Assembly 2018 in Gbarnga, Bong County held from April 8-15 on the theme, “Dialogue towards Entrepreneurship.”
According to the Church, several proposals were made during consultations with the various groups within the Church on the idea of entrepreneurship naming real estate, agriculture, transportation, insurance and small business.
They indicated that land is a serious component for embarking on entrepreneurship.
The Bishops are encouraging dioceses, parishes, parish organizations and institutions to seriously explore participation in entrepreneurial ventures which are ethical and legal.
“We are very much aware that entrepreneurship entails risk taking. But this is exactly what it means to ‘put out into the deep’. However, we recognize that certain factors could totally undermine, if not jeopardize, our endeavors to engage in entrepreneurship.”
CABICOL said lack of accountability can pose serious threats to entrepreneurship; adding that no entrepreneur will make headway without proper accountability. Neither will people be willing nor encouraged to contribute their resources to a venture without proper control system and accountability.
“As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to be accountable and transparent. We therefore call on all pastoral agents and administrators to ensure the proper use of resources entrusted to our care.”
The Catholic Church also said lack of requisite personnel, dialogue with government and youth empowerment could hinder resolve to embark on entrepreneurship.
The Catholic Church reassures President George Weah of their prayers and support in complementing government’s efforts in the provision of good and sound education, quality health care, pastoral and psycho-social needs of our people without discrimination based on religious, political or tribal affiliations.
“We welcome the government’s pro-poor agenda, which resonates with social teachings of the Catholic Church calling for preferential option for the poor. We are open to the new government for a sincere and honest dialogue in finding solutions to matters pertinent to the growth and development of our country.”
“The respect of the rule of law and the uncompromising defense and enhancement of the dignity of each and every person within our territorial confines remain, among others, conditions which will ensure our collaboration and support.”
The church said though youth constitute about 60 percent of the country’s population but are confronted with problems of underemployment.
“We urgently invite our government to give serious consideration not only to formal education but also to capacity building through vocational trainings for our young people so that they can be gainfully employed. We on our part commit ourselves to complement government’s efforts in this regard. “
Meanwhile, the Church is pleading with youths to get involved in volunteerism. “Our dear young people, please volunteer your time, energy and even little resources for the service of your Church and nation. Volunteerism is an act of patriotism.”
Some members in attendance at the Assembly included Most Rev. Anthony Fallah Borwah, Bishop of Gbarnga/ president of CABICOL, Archbishop Lewis Jerome Zeigler, Archbishop of Monrovia, and Most Rev. Andrew Jagaye Karnley, Bishop of Cape Palmas.