With extractive resources remaining a major challenge for government to handle effectively, a forum to educate communities on how the revenue the government reported it received and what extractive companies reported they had been paid began over the weekend in Monrovia.
The discussion, which included civil society working groups in the natural resource sector, and the Liberia Extractive Industrial Transparency Initiative (LEITI), is geared toward creating a feedback mechanism where LEITI would adequately furnish communities with all of its activities, including revenue collection and distribution.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day gathering, Mr. James Yarsiah, Executive Director of Rights and Rice Foundation, disclosed that communities where companies were extracting minerals and other natural resources have complained of being excluded in decision making during concession negotiations.
Even after the agreement is finalized and signed, Mr. Yarsiah noted that the citizens are not sufficiently educated on the terms and conditions about the contracts.
This, he said could create a situation of confusion, mistrust, tension and conflict.
“The benefit sharing arrangement is not fully outlined and understood by the communities. More besides, they don’t get their fair share of the resource and some communities don’t get it on time,” he claimed.
“There needs to be a feedback mechanism for the local people to understand LEITI’s reporting of revenue generated from the use of their resources.”
Earlier in his intervention, LEITI deputy head of secretariat, Mr. Myers Saye, lauded the gathering for the initiative, which he said, was in the right direction.
He however disclosed that his institution, since its establishment, has been publishing reports on revenues collected from extractive companies, admitting that there has not been any feedback from the communities in that direction.
He disclosed that his institution has increased its revenue collection from US$29 million to US$110 million, which would be made public shortly.