President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has hailed the Legislature for its role in producing a draft oil and gas law and hopes that the collaboration will reach a successful conclusion, resulting in a petroleum law that will benefit all Liberians.
The Liberian leader stressed that the nationwide consultations by the Legislature further increased citizens' participation in assuming ownership of their country's oil future which she said serves as an eye opener in demonstrating transparency.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf was speaking at the opening of the Monrovia Roundtable on the Draft Oil Law at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, Monday, March 10.
Delivering the Keynote Address, the Liberian President said she was particularly pleased that the citizens are part of the oil law formulation and believes that these broad-based inputs are about to produce one of the best oil laws in Africa. "Usually, oil laws are made after a commercial discovery, not before; but my administration wanted to be ready before that time in preparing for the future generation of Liberians thereby creating the right framework, building the right institutions, and strengthening our capacity before oil is found in order to give our country a strong start," she said.
She gave three reasons why there is a compelling need to have a robust oil and gas law, ranging from attracting world-class oil companies to having a transparent and accountable sector. "First, we wanted Liberia to be positioned to attract world-class oil companies that would bring the highest degree of accountability and transparency, technical excellence, the highest standards for health, safety and the environment, employment for Liberians.
"Second, we wanted Liberia to have a petroleum governance framework that strikes the right balance between providing revenues and other benefits to the State.
"Thirdly, we wanted Liberia to have a progressive petroleum law that would be a model for accountability, transparency and inclusion," President Sirleaf emphasized.
The Liberian leader pointed out that this has not been a small achievement for a country emerging from a brutal civil war, fuelled in part by the misuse of natural resources. She expressed much optimism that the bottom line of the exercise would be in the interest of the people.
House Speaker, Honorable J. Alex Tyler, in remarks, praised the collaboration between the Legislative and Executive branches of government and hoped this will serve as an example for future collaboration.
He informed the audience that the citizens' participation during the nationwide oil and gas consultations have demonstrated to the Legislature that Liberians wanted to take ownership of their oil future as exemplified by their turnout from one county to the other.
President Pro-Tempore, Senator Gbehzongar Findley, on behalf of the Senate, renewed its commitment to all stakeholders in the oil sector in working with them to reach a logical conclusion in producing a comprehensive oil law for Liberia.
Senator Findley recounted the numerous challenges encountered during the nationwide consultations; but said the resolve of the Liberian people in taking ownership of the sector is uncompromising as reflected in the draft Act.
As part of the official launch of the Monrovia Roundtable, a young Liberian, Estrada Bernard III, living in Alaska, United States of America, made a power-point presentation to the audience about the State of Alaska, its oil revenue and benefits for its people and compared it with Liberia.
Mr. Bernard, who is in his last year at the South Anchorage High School, wants Liberians to take a keen look at the Alaska model as it would lead to greater citizens' benefit.
The Monrovia Roundtable was organized by the 53rd National Legislature. This follows its nationwide consultations on the draft Petroleum Act last year.