Extractive Sector: World Bank, Stakeholders Review New Publication on License to Drill

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World Bank officials and stakeholders at a roundtable discussion.

To enhance transparency and accountability in the Extractive sector, the World Bank Group, stakeholders and representatives from civil society organizations on Wednesday, October 24, reviewed the Bank’s new publication under the title, “License to Drill: A Manual on Integrity Due Diligence for Licensing in Extractive Sectors.”

“License To Drill”  is aimed at helping countries improve background checks on applicants for licenses and concessions in natural resources, particularly the Extractive sectors.

Stakeholders, who attended the one-day meeting at the World Bank office in Monrovia, identified the lack of political willpower as part of challenges that is hampering smooth adherence to integrity requirements and laws on the book.

The publication highlights beneficial ownership, criminal background, and conflict of interest checks, geared at licensing only companies and concessions that are likely to meet high integrity standards in developing a country’s valuable assets.

Daniel Boakye, World Bank Liberia Chief Economist, said the new publication is intended to enhance transparency and accountability, and gaps of licensing companies.

Boakye recalled that Liberia was among the first countries to sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), noting, “we look forward to a very productive engagement.”

Lead Author, Cari L. Votava, a World Bank Senior Financial Specialist informed the participants that the publication focuses on the legal steps that should be required in licensing companies in the sector.

“We must also focus on strengthening the systems, and procedures to efficiently observe the cross-border exchange of information among regulatory officials in the sector.  We acknowledge that there is much work needed to improve the integrity and transparency of a sector that is particularly vulnerable to corruption in this regard,” Ms. Votava said.

According to her, a license is generally understood to be a permit from an authority to allow a person or a company to carry on mining activity, subject to specific limits, but before licenses are renewed, it is essential to know exactly who are the potential recipients.

The Vice Chairman of the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), Adams Manobah, observed that one of the country’s deficiencies is the failure of leaders to implement laws that are the books.

Manobah believes that many Liberians are not willing to make a difference to improve the country, instead they prefer to occupy positions of trust only for the salary, “therefore, we have to go beyond our comfort zones to ensure proper implementation of projects to benefit the country.”

Lands, Mines and Energy Deputy Minister for Operations, Emmanuel O. Sherman, stressed the need for the government to establish reliable Information Technology (IT) and database systems that would centralize information from key government ministries and sectoral agencies for easy background check on companies coming to invest in the country.

The IT, Sherman said, will also enable the government to review records of such companies and exercise due diligence before granting any license or accreditation.

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