Members of Liberia's National Legislature wrapped up their tour of the various counties, seeking inputs on the proposed Draft Petroleum Legislation in the Montserrado County district of Bentol. Delegates at the Bentol consultations did not shy from weighing in their views about the process. Though some see the process as welcoming and a step in the right direction, others says it is simply a cosmetic venture.
CLIFFORD BONNARD, Visually impaired
"We want to see a law that will improve the lives of the disabled people who have always been at the bottom of the food chain. We want a law that will sponsor disable people in schools without any cost attached to make them believe in themselves. I hope the views of people participating here today and others who have participated will be reflected into the law because what the people say is what they want and since they are direct representative of the people this should not be for formality where they will spent plenty money and do what they want to do at the end of the day."
ESTHER RUFUS, Resident of district 16
"I hope that if it is established that the country has oil, education should be priority number one in Liberia because our country is running brain drain. I also hope for a better Education and health systems where everyone will become hero on their own. I welcome the idea of nationwide consultations because at least I am a part of the process today. I do not support people who describe this process as wasteful spending. I think the coming together of us here today requires money. I respect their views but I want them to be positive in their criticism."
Amara M. Fofana, Residents District 12
"I am disappointed because as a delegate from District 12, I have been denied access to the seat dedicated to the district of which I am representing here today. The committee has placed me and my colleagues in the back of the hall despite the numbering system put in place. Here at the back, we have to stand tall to be recognized to make input and we are here today representing out constituent. I am also disappointed that we have come here to amend a law that we have no access to. You call us to come and discuss an amended law when we don't have the old law but you want us amend the new one. What are we talking about? What are we amending? That is one critical part that needs redress. From what I have understood and read in the draft law, I see a lot of errors and one of those error is where the law give the Finance Ministry the authority to borrow money which contravenes article 30 C of the Liberian constitution where the power is given only to the legislature to borrow money on behalf of the government and any attempt to not ratify this amendment as it is, will be undermining the constitution. We hope to see that as these consultations come to an end the resources of this country will benefit the Citizens more than it will benefit the investors.
Steve Kennedy, Executive Director Of Young People Against Hunger And Joblessness
"What I have observe here Is that this whole process is being staged manage by lawmakers who are leading this campaign. This oil issue is a serious thing that needs to be looked at carefully and I say staged manage because lawmakers are going around and selecting people they have control over. The lawmakers are looking at the luxury of money and downplaying the importance of the event. They should not be actors of the process. We want the people themselves to get involve into the process rather than lawmakers handpicking people to attend the consultation."
Robert William, Delegate
"The Issue of the consultation is good but we see serious issue that is still lacking. We see serious controversy in the draft oil law and we think this needs serious attention. It has been observed that in the draft law, the Finance Ministry is given the power to borrow money through the ministry of petroleum something we see as contravening to the constitution and is in serious conflict to the functions of National legislature. We want this clause repealed from the constitution in order to avoid future conflict as it relates to power struggle."
Gargar Richard, Delegate District #6
"We want to admonish stakeholders to not be fast about decision that will be deriving from the consultation here today. We want them to continue with the consultation at intellectual centers, Town hall meetings and other gathering because we see lot of critical issues to be discussed. This issue about oil is a new phenomenon in Liberia especially in the area of local content. We feel counties paying host to oil blocks should be given direct benefits. The issue of allotting oil block to these multi concession companies has some political undertones and so I think we should go about doing it with care and reserved blocks for future generation. If you look at the NOCAL record on managing revenue from the oil sector, I will say it is too loose. So I will want some mechanism put in place that will better manage revenue realize from the oil sector. If you look around today you see poverty in the faces of Liberians. So we want this to be carefully done especially in a country like Liberia still in the process of recovery. We will also hope that our views and recommendations here today will not be place aside like it was done in the referendum in the case of the simple majority."