17 March 2014

Liberia: House Concludes Oil Consultation

Photo: Chevron Liberia
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf chats with U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac (far right) and Senate Pro Tempore Gbehzongar Findley (in middle) on Chevron oil rig.

Members of the House of Representatives have concluded the nationwide oil consultation here with Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue describing the exercise as healthy. The consultation, which brought together oil experts, members of the general public and officials of government including the lawmakers, was characterized by exchange of ideas to find a way forward in making sure that interest of the state is protected.

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Speakers Barchue said that the consultation was healthy due to the fact that every Liberian was willing to make his or her contribution to the exercise. He said in Monrovia over the weekend, that the views of Liberians and experts will be taken into consideration to form part of the bill that is currently before the House. Last year, members of the 53rd Legislature embarked on a nationwide consultative tour intended to take the National Petroleum reform law to ordinary Liberians after it was passed by the Senate.

During the tour, the lawmakers visited all fifteen counties where citizens were given the opportunity to voice their views about the country's emerging sector. Many in attendance recommended and suggested policies necessary to protect the country's oil sector.

It was announced after the fifteen-county tour that a national consultative forum would be held to climax the exercise. However, to the surprise of many, including the media, a six-day roundtable consultative forum kicked off on Monday marred by poor attendance.

Deputy Speaker Barchue also told reporters that the three experts brought from Alaska, the United States, are not being paid, dismissing speculations that the experts, including the grandson of President Sirleaf's sister, were being paid heftily by NOCAL to participate in the roundtable.

Asked whether the legislature was still operating on the US$900,000 proposed budget by the legislature, the Deputy Speaker said: "Yes, we are very transparent in what we do. I can promise you that at the end of this forum we will give you a detailed breakdown on how the money was used. It will be unfair if we leave the process in the middle and give a report. So please be patient."

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