8 February 2013

Liberia: Defiant Companies Face LEITI Wrath - Official threatens Revocation of Licenses for Non-Compliance

International best practice theory, which has become the Bible of most modern nations, have penetrated every facet of political governance even in Liberia. One key precept of this practice is for concessionaries in the extractive sector to submit to the piercing rays of transparency by reporting what they earn. It seems many companies in the sector in Liberia are still stuck in the past where investors bullied their way over the tears of impoverished people and starving nations. But the group charged with the responsibility to checkmate companies in the extractive sector is poised to make sense prevails. The Analyst reports.

The Head of Secretariat at Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) Mr. Samson Tokpah has threatened to embark upon the revocation of the operating licenses of several companies failing to adhere to government regulations.

Addressing the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing in Monrovia on Thursday, Mr. Tokpah said the Liberian government could no longer bear to lose millions of United States dollars to none-compliant extractive companies.

"In 2009/2010, we had 50 companies that did not comply with LEITI regulation. We had to recap so as to ensure that those who did not complied with us were sanctioned," Tokpah said. "A number of them have complied by paying a fine of US$1,000.00, but a few other licenses will be revoked for none-compliance, though they have merged with other companies."

Though he did not name a single none-compliant company, this paper understands that a number of companies, especially those involved in mining minerals are most likely to fall prey to this pending action by the regulator of Liberia's extractive industry.

Tokpah added that LEITI feels extremely challenged by ill-responsible board members, as their attitude was posing serious impossibilities on the secretariat, relative to implementing policies. He narrated that board members are represented by "proxies of proxies."

"If our meeting to implement policies will be dominated by proxies who instead sent proxies, it makes our work difficult to do, because those proxies have to return to their bosses and make report and they will instead make report to their bosses before a decision can be taken in distance," Mr. Tokpah averred.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tokpah has disclosed that LEITI will in March this year launch its fourth official report. The report is expected to show usage of revenues generated from Liberia's extractive sector.

LEITI was established in 2007, but began operation in 2008 following a legislative enactment.

With a 183% increased (from US$300,000 – US$850,000) as its operational budget, LEITI is now working on post award process review  which will determine whether certain contracts, rights and permits were awarded in line with applicable Liberian laws.

Under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Liberia is the first country to include contract transparency, forestry and agriculture in its program.

Since its coming to existence in 2008, LEITI has contributed millions of United States dollars to government revenue.

In 2010, LEITI contributed US$71 million, US$35 million and US$29 million to government revenue in 2009 and 2008 respectively.

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