60 Concessionaires ‘Operating Illegally’

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The Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) has unearthed what it described as massive violations and discrepancies in the extractive sector with nearly all the contracts and permits awarded to concessionaires “not in compliance” with the Liberian Law.

According to LEITI’s audit, which is scheduled for release this week, only six of the 68 contracts were awarded in line or in compliance with Liberian Law.

The extractive sector comprises oil, mining, forestry and agriculture. LEITI, however, did not identify the specific companies to the media.

The audit further reveals that 25 contracts met partial requirements, while 35 were given outside of what the law required. He, however, did not make mention of the remaining two contracts. “That is 60 concession companies operating illegally in the country,” an excerpt from the report revealed.

The report was summarily given by LEITI Industries/Sector Analyst, Sarnyenneh Dickson, when he served as a facilitator during a one day workshop which brought together representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) and civil peace building organizations (CBOs) from Grand Cape Mount, Bong and Margibi counties. The day-long event was held under the theme, “Rural CBO/CSO Capacity-Building on the LEITI Process.”

The workshop aimed to provide a platform for LEITI to take participants through its processes in Liberia “as well as shared experiences, providing guidance and knowledge about LEITI.”

The workshop was implemented by the Liberia Peace Building Network (LIBNET) and sponsored by LEITI.

Mr. Dickson told the participants that LEITI has conducted its first ever Post Award Process Audit on 68 companies operating in the oil, mining, forestry and agricultural sectors whose contracts, licenses and permits and rights were amended by the government of Liberia for the period of July 13, 2009 up to and including December 31, 2011.

The LEITI analyst said the objective of the audit was to ascertain whether these rights and permits were awarded in line with applicable Liberian laws.

“This is LEITI’s 6th Report and will be out in about a week’s time,” Mr. Dickson said. “We have published five reconciliation reports on revenue from the extractive sector of the government’s fiscal years since mid 2008.”

According to him, this is also LEITI’s first ever audit on the process of granting awards in the extractive industries, and covers the Fiscal Year 2012/2013.

Mr. C. Neileh Daituah, LIBNET Board Chair, and the Executive Director of LIBNET, Mr. Nimie Brooks Barlue, also served as facilitators.

Participants were drawn from rural organizations from three counties: LADAMA Youth for Peace and Development and the Protection of Natural Resources (Grand Cape Mount County); Fuamah District Youth (Lower Bong County); Kakata YMCA; and the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NACSOL), both from Margibi County.

In separate remarks, representatives from LADAMA, Jeremiah K. Lymas, Matthew Bargeleh of Fuamah District Youth, Eugene J. Cooper of Kakata YMCA and E. Friday Crusor of NACSOL, thanked LEITI and LIBNET for the “eye-opening workshop.”

The participants were also taught on constructive engagement with concession companies, amongst others. Consequently, they appealed for a biannual training on LEITI and its reports.

They considered it a revelation that they can send complaints to the LEITI Secretariat for subsequent redress by the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) – LEITI’s governing body – calling it “wonderful news”.

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