“Big Roundtable Conference on Oil, Gas Laws Underway”

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(L-r) Speaker J. Alex Tyler, President Ellen Johnson.jpg

The Speaker of the House of Representatives has announced a round-table stakeholders’ conference to discuss the oil and gas sector of post-conflict Liberia. The aim is to ensure that proceeds generated from the sector benefit the country and its citizens.

The Speaker did not say much about the conference’s schedule; he suggested, however, that it would reflect views and intelligence gleaned (assembled, collected) from a recently-held, nationwide fact and view gathering activity.

Speaker J. Alex Tyler was speaking on Monday, January 13, at the Rotunda of the Capitol Building (the Seat of the Legislature) during a program marking the reopening of the 3rd Session of the Liberian Legislature.

Beginning November 4 through the 9th of December, members of the House of Representatives had concluded consultations on the oil and gas sector throughout the 15 counties. It was formulated as an initiative to build consensus.  That consensus would in turn, inform effective lawmaking processes in the hydro-carbon sector, as a wheel to sustain the country’s post-war development program.

The nationwide oil and gas consultation was intended to solicit the views, opinions, input and recommendations from ordinary Liberians.

The expectation was that lawmakers would be granted the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding the exploration and production of oil in Liberia.

The passage of appropriate legislation would be factored into the end product of the country’s oil law, if a marketable cache of the product were discovered.

The nationwide consultation was led  by   the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bomi lawmaker J. Alex Tyler. The consultation took members of the House to all the 15 political sub-divisions of the country including Bong, Bassa, Margibi, Maryland, River-gee, River-cess, Bomi, Cape Mount, Nimba, Sinoe, Grand Gedeh, Gbarpolu, Lofa, Grand Kru  and Montserrado.

Speaker Tyler hinted that following the nationwide consultation, the planned roundtable meeting to compile and harmonize views and interventions emanating from the just-ended consultations across the country—is soon to follow.

He said that the conference should pave the way for the drafting of two bills: a draft legislation to deal with local content; the other, to treat with the revenue management component, including the National Oil Company and the Petroleum Exploration Bill, forwarded to the House of Representatives by the Liberian Senate.

That Bill will be presented at the National Conference. It is intended to ensure the participation of all stakeholders inclusive of political parties, civil societies, the media, and all interested parties.

During the pending round table conference,   the Speaker said the draft Bill will be presented on the floor for discussion, debate, and consideration for passage.

He told the gathering that members of the Lower House’s decision to recast the oil and gas proposed laws have been informed by feed-back they received from consultations with the rank-and-file (ordinary members without power and influence) across the country.

“We promised our people during the nationwide consultation that upon our return from break, we would improve the livelihood of our people by enacting appropriate legislation”   the Speaker indicated.

Detailing further, he said that members of the legislature have a number of outstanding Bills in Committee Room—before Plenary—and with the Liberian Senate. They include the Decent Work Bill, the Code of Conduct Bill, the Level Playing Field Bill, and the Petroleum Oil   and Gas Reform Sector. “We shall immediately resume working on those laws and others already before us.”

Speaker Tyler said that following the just-ended nationwide consultations, they have begun receiving lots of positive comments from citizens across the country.

The draft proposed laws, the NOCAL 2013 and the Petroleum and Exploration 2013, were submitted to the National Legislature by the Executive through the National Oil Company Liberia (NOCAL).

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