24 July 2013

Liberia: NIC Capacity Strengthened

In order to fully understand the complexities surrounding concessionary discussions in the management of Liberia's natural resources, the National Investment Commission (NIC), the chief negotiator of the country's natural resources, Tuesday ended its fourth workshop in Monrovia, which is aimed at enhancing the capacity of the government representatives during concessionary deliberations between the GOL and investors.

The two days' seminar, which took place at the Embassy Suit Hotel, Mamba Point, Monrovia, is also targeted at lending NIC/GOL officials the technical know-how during contract negotiation and support to developing countries as well as addressing human resource gaps within the country's investment climate. "The National Investment Commission has ended fourth round of seminar which borders on contract negotiation support for developing countries. The workshop provided the forum for discussion about a concrete organizational approach for support for developing countries as they prepare, negotiate or monitor complex contracts for large-scale investments," a statement, quoting the outcome of the seminar, read by NIC Chairman O. Natty B. Davis, said.

"One of the most important things about this workshop is that it's going to prepare us (NIC) for pre-concessionary discussions. Knowing the value of what we have is very important to this forum and for the entire country, especially when it comes to the management of our resources," Chairman Davis said at Tuesday's press briefing following the end of the seminar.

He praised HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA School of Governance from Berlin, Germany, the lead sponsor of the partnership workshop, including other partners within the international community that are supporting the country's investment transformation agenda. "Participants who were largely made up of African government officials, investors, and lawyers as well as representatives of existing initiatives, members of civil society, donors, multilateral organizations and academics reached a consensus on what is referred to as the Monrovia Declaration," Chairman Davis said at the press briefing.

Adding, "The Monrovia Declaration recognizes that there are important gaps when it comes to strengthening the capacity of least developed country governments as they prepare for negotiation and the monitoring of large-scale complex contracts for large-scale investment projects."

In order to address these gaps in the most adequate and effective manner, he said participants at the two days' discussions concluded on three complementary approaches in order to improve existing negotiation support, including information-sharing and coordination mechanism, contract negotiation support center that would enable interaction between the support request and experts providing advice or information via email or telephone, as well as the setting up of a rapid advisory unit, which would be charged with the duty of mobilizing multi-disciplinary terms of both local and international experts ready to step in when governments need timely and affordable advice before and during negotiations.

Mr. Peter Eigen, representative of the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance at the workshop for his part praised the effort of the NIC and lauded the country's partners for addressing challenges faced by the commission. "We expect that the outcome of these workshops will complement the resources that Liberia is blessed with," says Karl Sauvant, representative of the Vale Colombia Center on Sustainable International Investment, one of several sponsors of the NIC seminar.

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