President Weah’s Appointments At FDA, LEITI Violate Existing Laws
Monrovia – Two of President George Weah’s recent appointments appear pretty controversial, prompting observers and stakeholders of the sector to raise red flag over the Liberian leader’s decision.
Report by Al-Varney Rogers – [email protected]
The President’s appointment of Harrison Karnwea as board chairman of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) contradicts the law, which states that the Minister of Agriculture is automatically Chairman of the Broad of Directors.
Also, the appointment of Gabriel Nyenkan as Board Chairman of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) blatantly contravenes the Act that created the agency.
The law provides that the board chair of LEITI should come from the Multi-stakeholder Group comprising of members from the legislature, executive and civil society organizations (CSOs).
Samson Dee and Nora T. Wreh were also named director and deputy director respectively of the Liberia Business Registry although the posts are civil servant positions.
At the same time, the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LMPC) Act, which has been repealed, gets Musa Konneh as Deputy Managing Director.
Meanwhile, many observers of the FDA are scratching their head after Mr. Karnwea’s appointment.
The Act creating the FDA states the following: “The policies of the authority shall by the Board of Directors consisting of: A) The Minister of Agriculture as Chairman, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Local Government, the Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs, the Ministers of Commerce Industry and Transportation and the President of the Liberian Bank of Development and Investment…”
In 2006, the Forestry Law was amended, changing the focus of FDA from commercial logging to conservation and community forestry, but did not change the Minister of Agriculture’s role as Chair of the Board.
Civil Society Frowns At Appointment
Meanwhile, the appointment of Gabriel Nyenkan as Chairman of LEITI is facing sharp criticisms from members of the civil society bloc of the sector.
LEITI was established through an Act of the Legislature in 2009 as part of the global EITI Standard that promotes revenue transparency in the extractive sectors in resourced-rich countries.
It strives to ensure transparency over payments made to and revenues received by the Government from companies in the mining, agriculture, forestry and oil and gas sectors.
The civil society bloc of the Multi-stakeholder Steering Group (MSG) of LEITI is calling on President Weah to reconsider the appointment of Nanka to “enable the entity fully focus on the crucial task at hand before the next validation of the country in the coming months.”
The MSG has the statutory mandate to oversee the LEITI and is a tripartite conglomeration of the civil society, private sector/companies and the government in accordance with Section 2.2 of the Act.
In a press statement released on Tuesday, March 6, the bloc inferred that the action of the President violates the 2009 LEITI Act.
The LEITI Act of 2009 requires the President to appoint members of the MSG, and “shall designate one of them as the Chairperson and another as the Co-Chairperson”.
“The power to recruit the head of secretariat, deputy and other staff members of the LEITI Secretariat therefore lies with the MSG, according to Section 6.3d of the LEITI Act.”
MSG group said the law provides that the Chairman of LEITI shall come from the multi-stakeholder group, which shall include officials of government; members of parliament, members of extractive companies; and civil society organizations including an association or union of workers in the extractive sectors.
The civil society bloc views President Weah’s recent appointment of a Chair outside of the three statutory sectors as dominance by one sector over the EITI process in Liberia and warns that such action undermines the independence and integrity of the LEITI.
It stressed that while the President has the right to appoint the Chairman, the law requires that such person should either be a government official, member of parliament, extractive companies and civil society organization.
The bloc is calling on the Liberian leader to follow the LEITI Act in appointing members to the Multi-stakeholder Steering Group (MSG).
Article 2.2 of the LEITI Act: “The LEITI shall comprise a broad coalition of stakeholders, and shall accordingly be managed as a multi-stakeholders body in keeping with the provisions of this Act.
The coalition of stakeholders referred to herein shall include but not be limited to officials of government; members of parliament, members of extractive companies; and civil society organizations including an association or union of workers in the extractive sectors”.
Article 6.5 states: Members of the MSG shall be appointed by the President, who shall designate one of them as the Chairperson and another as the Co-Chairperson.
In the appointment of members of the MSG to represent civil society and the private sector the President shall hold appropriate consultations with members of the groups.”