The LEITI Secretariat says it is concerned about a headline story carried in the Tuesday, December 1, 2015 edition of the Daily Observer newspaper, which was also published online, titled: “60 Concessionaires Operating Illegally.”
The article, authored by Leroy M. Sonpon III, quoted LIETI Sector Analyst, Sarnyenneh Dickson, as saying that an LEITI audit report, scheduled to be released this week, has unearthed 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.”
“Details contained in the article are grossly inconsistent,” the Secretariat said in a statement “substantially deviating from the facts provided by our staff (to whom) the attributions were made. We have outlined the inconsistencies below along with the facts.
“Reference to an imminent LEITI report covering audit of concessions contracts is not true. There is no such report awaiting publication or release by the LEITI. The only review of this kind, known as the ‘Post Award Process Audit,’ was done by the LEITI in 2013, with the report published in May of the same year during a press conference attended by scores of journalists at the LEITI Secretariat in Monrovia. The report is available on the LEITI website on this link: http://www.leiti.org.lr/uploads/2/1/5/6/21569928/leiti_post_award_process_audit_final_report.pdf.
“Since then, LEITI has not commissioned any audit of such nature, least to mention about releasing a report of that nature.
“The author continued with the misrepresentation of facts on page 18, column 4, and paragraph 2 of your paper when he referred to the report being described as ‘the LEITI’s 6th Report’. While it is true that LEITI is preparing its 6th Annual Reconciliation Report, the annual LEITI reports are not audits of the concession award processes. Again, the current 6th LEITI Annual Reconciliation Report is still in draft, and as a matter of best practice, we would not discuss findings of a draft report in the public or to the press.
“The author’s confusion about the report he was discussing was clearly displayed in the article when he mentioned two different scopes for the same report. On Page 18, column 3, he mentioned the reporting period as July 13, 2009 up to and including December 31, 2011, and on column 4, paragraph 3 of the same page, he recorded the period for the same report as fiscal year 2012/2013. The problem is, while our staff had mentioned that the LEITI would soon release it 6th Annual Reconciliation Report, and subsequently highlighted findings of the Post Award Process Audit, the reporter, failing to seek clarifications, treated these reports as one and related facts associated with both reports interchangeably.”
“While we appreciate media coverage of our programs,” the statement signed by Samson Wonnah said, “we caution that information provided are accurate and/or are verified, as there is huge potential for conflict on issues bordering on resource governance.