18 February 2014

Liberia: The Kuwaiti Deal Must Benefit Liberians


The Liberian Government is reportedly closed to concluding an oil agreement with the Government of Kuwait following two years of negotiations. The oil deal was negotiated by President Johnson Sirleaf who subsequently named entrepreneur and loyalist Musa Bility to lead the discussions.

Discussions Between Mr. Bility and Kuwait started on a good note, but later ran into some complications that impeded initial discussions. Notwithstanding, the oil talks with the Kuwaiti resumed again; this time, it was smooth sailing.

Until The Appointment of Robert Sirleaf as special Kuwaiti envoy, Mr. Bility had been in charge of negotiating for the oil, and it appears that the sudden appointment of Mr. Sirleaf is creating bad blood and firestorm in some circles. Bility should have continued but the President has the power to appoint. However, most Liberians believe the decision indicates that this President prefers her children or family members to occupy strategic positions in government.

Kuwait, One Of the richest oil nations, has now consented to release subsidized commercial oil to Liberia, specifically intended for recovery and humanitarian purposes. However, Liberia provide an acceptable alternative to the bank guarantee which the Kuwaiti Petroleum Company had initially requested to conclude the transaction sources in government say Mr. Sirleaf's involvement was a major boost.

Most Liberians Have really not understood the full details of surrounding these oil discussions, let alone how it is going to benefit the suffering masses. In the Addax oil deal with Nigeria, the chief negotiator then, Harry Greaves, withheld vital information to the public, prompting suspicion that the Addax oil deal was shrouded in secrecy. Although the current oil deal with Kuwait does not appear to be the case, however, there are reports that the Kuwaiti oil, when finally released to Liberia would be sold to a former West African leader who owns an oil company. Details remain scanty though, but sources in government hinted this paper that discussions are being held with the former West African leader in question.

We Appreciate The magnanimity of the Kuwaiti government to give Liberia oil for recovery and humanitarian purposes. We are concerned about how the proceeds from the sale of the oil would benefit the nation and people. We do not believe that the current oil deal with Kuwait is being shrouded in secrecy.

The Government Should be transparent and accountable to the people everywhere along the negotiation because of the experience of the Addax oil deal which Harry Greaves, former LPRC boss chaired. The GAC report cited several irregularities and lack of transparency and accountability.

We Are Not enthusiastic about Mr. Sirleaf's appointment as special envoy because there's no proven track record in government, especially at the National Oil Company of Liberia, where he worked. Under his stewardship, there's no audit report made public to verify that he left an excellent record at NOCAL. The dividends from the Kuwaiti oil deal must be made known to Liberians.

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