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.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks to Mr. David Yates and the Daily Observer for this excellent story on the Extractive Sector of Liberia. Also, thanks to the stakeholders, experts of the World Bank, representatives of Civil Society and other prominent members of society for their interest in ensuring that our country generates a reasonable share of the profits of our natural resources.
    However, we have many challenges. For instance, the record keeping system is questionable. The Central Bank of Liberia’s 2017 report under the topic called “Real Sector” stated that Liberia generated ounces of gold during the months of Jan. through April of 2017. Ounces generated was 196.71 in January; 303.30 in February; 246.08 in March and 244 in April of 2017 as per page # 39. In 2015, Central Bank of Liberia reported 1,989 in Jan.; 1,269 in Feb.; 1,110 in March; 948 in April; 1,224 in May; 571 in June. See page # 35 of the same report.

    LEITI reported that gold ounces was 14,740 in 2014 and 9,205 in 2015. It stated that the information came from 2015 Annual Economic Review.

    But the Liberian Revenue Authority provided different numbers. For two companies (Bea Mountain and MNG), gold ounces was 57,561 for 2016/17 as per page # 27 of the LRA Report.
    I visited the LEITI in 2017 and asked the former Director and Deputy Director about the low number of ounces representing 58 gold mining companies.

    They stated that the information came from the Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy. They also added that they did not have the resources to visit the operating sites of these companies or the authority to enforce the regulations stipulated within the Act of the Agency.

    Let us accept the numbers of the gold ounces of two gold mining companies as per page # 27 of the LRA Report, but why did LRA not give information about the other gold mining companies?

    We can do better.

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