Natural resource concessions are drivers of the country's economy, the Chairman of the National Bureau of Concessions (NBC) said at the end of a mineral and mining Act consultative workshop in Monrovia.
In a statement, Tarnue Marwolo noted that it is not a chance that the Liberian economy is dominated by concession sector and seems set to remain for foreseeable future, given the long term nature of various concession agreements executed by the country, both in the extractive industries and agricultural sectors as well as the emerging oil and gas sector.
Up to date, he added that the Government of Liberia has attracted an unprecedented amount in foreign direct investment (FDI) of US$20 billion accounting for over 70% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
Growth in investment portends tremendous present and future benefits for the country and its people if planned and harnessed properly. "This has certainly not been the case, transparently executing these concession agreements effectively managing their implementation, monitoring concessionaires compliance with the terms of the agreements, and evaluating the impact of investment on the overall economic growth and human development of the country has been a challenge to say the least".
The Chairman contributed poor negotiation of concession agreements to the lack of effective monitoring, evaluation and compliance regime; lack of effective tax regime as factors responsible for failure in the sector.
Others include lack of consistent application of the tax code within and across the sectors; lack of community involvement, improper utilization of monies derived/received, lack of coordination among the concession-granting agencies; conflicting or outdated laws governing concessions management and the lack of a national inventory.
Commenting on the way forward, he added that the laws and statures creating the various regulatory concession agencies must be harmonized so as to avoid conflict and duplications.
"Information of concession agreements must be disseminated to the affected communities and there must be coordination efforts among concession granting entities to share information", Mr. Marwolo indicated.
According to him, government should support the creation of the national cadastre so as to avoid conflict over land between local community dwellers and the concessionaire on one hand and the concession holders on the other hand.
He also pointed out that increase in budgetary support for monitoring and evaluation to ensure compliance and human resource development.