Effective procurement procedure is a major challenge in Liberia, stakeholders including government and development partners have observed. Now they want a reform of the country’s procurement policy, that many, including those in government, believe is hindering the speedy completion of government’s development projects.
So, building markets, an international business consortium that is helping to train and create business opportunity businesses in collaboration with the World Bank Group, the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy (MLME) and Liberia’s National Investment Commission (NIC) yesterday, April 3, began a two-day seminar to discuss local procurement issues in the country’s mining sector.
The seminar, which officially opened at PA’s Rib-house on Thursday, brought together miners and primary contractors, policy makers, major mining and service companies, suppliers associations, practitioners and donors from the mining industry in the country.
The seminar is aimed at sharing knowledge and experiences on how to generate common understanding of potential benefits of local procurement, as well as the conditions leading to a successful result of the events.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, World Bank Group’s Country Manager, Coleen Littlejohn, reminded participants that they would share and discuss recent research on local procurement in Liberia and the West African region more widely and how to make them more effective for the benefit of governments, industries, suppliers and other stakeholders.
According to the World Bank official, the aim of the workshop is to create a better understanding of the mining requirements and create a network with suppliers in ensuring that they increase local procurement for miners.
Madam Littlejohn further explained that mining the sector is another source of revenue generating for the government if key attention is given to it as well as employment opportunity for it citizens.
“Mining itself generates huge amount of revenue in the private sector and provide opportunity to the people.”
She assured that the event would also introduce the World Bank’s new practical guide to mining local procurement in West Africa, which is being developed to support stakeholders to increase the effectiveness of their local procurement efforts.
For his part, Tim Melvin, Country Manager of Building Markets said that Building Markets is working with suppliers in identifying lead business opportunity to Liberian.
Mr. Melvin said the workshop will addressed some of the major challenges facing business entrepreneurs in the country, especially the mining sectors.
He acknowledged the World Bank, NIC and the Ministry of Lands Mine and Energy’s support in hosting the seminar.
The Country Manager of Building Markets also called on participants to remain focused and benefit from the workshop.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Lands, Mines &Energy Minister for Operations Mr. Sam Russ noted local procurement is a part of the government’s strategy plan, which he said is being looked at along with other key components of local procurement in the country.
“We have realized that as a country, we don’t have effective a monitoring system that can track mining companies that are involved,” Mr. Russ declared.
He expressed that hope that at the end of workshop, participants would have effective leverage to discuss and attach importance to the procurement process.
The MLME official implored the participants to convey the message to their various mining companies.
This program, he said, is a Liberian program and we need to ensure that this workshop achieves its goals.
“It is important for you concession companies because it affects your social lesson and some of you who work in various communities, the residents in those communities expect to benefit from you.”
For his part, the director of project implementation unit (PIU) at NIC Mr. Zizi Stevens assured the public that NIC remains committed to the local procurement process.
Mr. Stevens, who spoke on behalf of NIC’s Michael S. Wotorson, said the government is also supportive of the policy in the mining sector of the country, which is going to include all local procurement contracts in the country.
He disclosed that the NIC has an ongoing project focusing on local procurement and different strategy policies in guiding the process. The seminar is expected to conclude on Friday, April 4, 2014.