Liberia: Government Launches Ninth EITI Report Following Suspension

The Chairman of the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, C. Mike Doryen displaying a copy of the EITI report at a press conference

Monrovia – At long last, the Government of Liberia has launched its ninth Extractive Transparency Initiative (EITI) report covering revenues generated in the extractive sector during the fiscal year 2015/2016.

Gerald C. Koinyeneh- 00231880881540 / 00231777769531 [email protected]

Speaking at the launch of the report in Monrovia on Monday, January 6, the Chairman of the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), C. Mike Doryen indicated that data from government agencies show that total revenue generated in the extractive industries after reconciliation work totaled US$66.37 million during FY 2015/2016.

Mr. Doryen, who serves as the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), noted that direct government revenue from the extractive sector decreased from US$100.73 million in FY 2014/2015 to US$56.4 million in FY 2015/2016.

He attributed the situation to several factors including the fall in prices of major commodities on the global market.

He however added that companies’ records show that a total of US$62, 481, 551 million was paid to government, whereas government acknowledged receipt of US$54,490,667; thereby creating a discrepancy of US$7,990,874.

Mr. Doryen: “The net discrepancy can be attributed to two factors. Firstly, the Government reported receipts for some companies, but those companies did not submit payment data to the reconcilers. Secondly, some companies submitted payment data, but the differences could not be reconciled due to the lack of adequate information provided to reconcilers.”

The ninth report, according to Doryen, was commissioned by the MSG on November 24, 2017 and prepared by Parker and Company LLC of Liberia in association with Moore Stephens LLP of the United Kingdom.

The report contains reconciled accounts of payments and revenues received by the Government of Liberia from the oil, mining forestry and agricultural companies during the fiscal year July 2, 2015 up to and including June 30, 2016.

It includes payment data of “In-kind Contributions made by extractive companies to the local communities and public institution, Revenue Tracking, and Amount Due for all fixed amounts.”

MSG Boss Hails Journalists’ crucial role

Mr. Doryen, at a press conference to mark the launch of the EITI report, averred that the launch of the report is not the end. He maintained that part of the process is to discuss the findings of the report with the public and solicit their views on the recommendations as they are the true owners of the resources.

He added that it is expected to be followed by massive dissemination exercises including extensive outreach throughout the 15 counties of Liberia once funding is secured; noting that the MSG is committed to further reviewing the findings and recommendations of the report with the aim of identifying areas for policy implementation.

“These initiatives are very crucial and cannot be achieved without the participation of all stakeholders of the LEITI process including you members of the press. In your traditional role as agenda setters, the LEITI depends on you to raise the platform of the EITI process in Liberia; to create awareness and educate the public on the findings of this report and other studies done and initiatives undertaken to promote transparent resource management in Liberia,” he averred.

He furthered that because of the huge volume of the report, not every member of the public may have access to a copy or appreciate to read such a volume, and as such the media has a crucial role in disseminating the information and educating the public.

‘A significant Step’

According to the MSG members, the launch of the report marks a significant step in putting Liberia transparency record back on track and lifting the temporary suspension placed on it by the EITI Board.

It can be recalled that Liberia was suspended in September 2018 from the EITI due to the “country’s failure to publish the EITI report for the fiscal period ending June 2016 within the first week of the July 1, 2018 deadline.”

Prior to its suspension, the LEITI was engulfed by internal wranglings following the “controversial” appointment of Gabriel Nyenkan in March 2018 as the new head of Secretariat, replacing Konah Karmo, who was appointed by the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) of LEITI in 2014 following a competitive vetting of the applicant.

Nyenkan’s appointment sparked a barrage of criticisms from local and international anti-graft institutions including the Center for Transparency and Accountability (CENTAL) and Global Witness (GW) calling for an immediate withdrawal of the nominee.

Liberia was one of the first countries to implement the EITI, and the progress it showed over the years was instrumental in the development of the EITI Standard in 2013. In 2016, Liberia demonstrated that it was making meaningful progress in implementing the standard.