Heritage (Monrovia)

Liberia: Speaker Tyler - Another Debate for Oil Law Soon

The Speaker of the 53rd Legislature, Jenekah Alex Tyler, has said the House of Representatives will hold the next phase of debate on the Oil Law shortly.

Speaker Tyler said the debate will include the holding of a round table stakeholders' meeting and the compilation and harmonization of views and interventions emanating from the recently held nationwide consultations.

Speaker Tyler spoke Monday, January 13, 2014 at the opening session of the Legislature from its agricultural break.

Hear the House Speaker: "These synchronized views and proposed bills - which we intend to demarcate into two distinct bills, one specifically dealing with the local content and the other with the revenue management component, including the National Oil Company and the Petroleum and exploration bills forwarded to the House of Representatives by the Liberian Senate - will be presented at a National conference for the participation of all stakeholders, inclusive of political parties, civil societies, the fourth estate and all interested persons."

It can be recalled that recently, the House of Representatives completed a nationwide oil consultation aimed at getting the views of citizens through palava hut meetings on the draft Petroleum Law. Also, the House of Representatives is currently reviewing the draft Petroleum Exploration and Production Act 2013 (Petroleum Act) and the draft National Oil Company of Liberia Act 2013 (NOCAL Act).

Sometimes ago, the international watchdog group, Global Witness (GW) in its report, raised concerns of insufficient political will within the Liberian Government to bring about the sweeping changes the oil sector needs.

The Global Witness report pointed out that while the controversial draft oil legislation contains some progressive and positive provisions, including requirements for the public disclosure of the ultimate beneficial owners of companies and strong transparency provisions, there are areas that need to be improved in the country to fully realize the potential benefits of its emerging oil sector.

Among other things, the report added that the success of the laws in developing a petroleum sector that supports the country's economic development will be in part determined by the safeguards within the Revenue Management Bill which has yet to be developed.

"Strong transparency, oversight and accountability provisions will be needed to ensure that any revenue from a potential oil find in Liberia can be effectively harnessed."

"The Petroleum and NOCAL Acts contain some progressive and innovative clauses on beneficial ownership and transparency of information.

"However, they fail to recognize and accordingly protect the land rights of all of those who may be affected by petroleum operations and do not require international competitive bidding in all cases."

Predicated on its findings, the organization (Global Witness) recommended the Legislature to use this chance to revise the acts and ensure that sufficient safeguards are put in place to enable any potential income from the Liberian's oil sector, in the absence of other sources of finance being available, to contribute to real development benefits.

Speaking further, Speaker Tyler told the gathering of Legislators that the bills will be presented on the floor for discussion, debate and consideration for passage.

According to him, the decision to recast the oil and gas proposed laws is due to feedbacks received from consultations from the rank and file of our citizens across the country.

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