Monrovia — The Liberian government through the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has described as a surprise and disappointment, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Board's decision to suspend the country for delaying to publish its ninth EITI Report that was due since 2016.
"In its statement suspending Liberia, the EITI Board clearly indicated in paragraph one that, the EITI Board decided on September 4, 2018 to suspend Liberia for not publishing the EITI Report for the Fiscal Period ending June 2016 within the first of July, 2018 deadline," a communication from LEITI said.
The EITI Board took the decision on September 4, 2018 to suspend Liberia for not having published the EITI report for the fiscal period ending June 2016 within the 1 July 2018 deadline. The decision followed a request by the Government of Liberia to extend the reporting deadline, set by the EITI Standard.
The Board found that the request did not meet the criteria for granting an extension
"We are hoping that this is a temporary setback. We encourage the Government to consult all the relevant stakeholders and ensure that they are adequately represented in Liberia's EITI multi-stakeholders group, in accordance with the EITI Standard," said EITI's Acting Executive Director Eddie Rich.
But LEITI believes missing out on its 2015/2016 fiscal period deadline should not be used as a ground to suspend a country whose government has just spent seven month in power.
This decision taken against Liberia, the agency says does not give a positive reflection of Liberia on performing its responsibility, terming it as unfortunate.
"The fact that Liberia has missed its deadline for reporting on 2015/2016 fiscal period which ended in June 2016 cannot be attributed to a 7-month old government," the LEITI communication noted.
"Clearly, the country's suspension reflects our government's inability to publish a report covering July 2015-2016, two to three years ago."
The agency blames the suspension on individuals who have embark on a "misguided information distortion jamboree" for the sake of vilifying the George Weah's led administration.
"These anti-nationalistic elements must be reminded that from June 2015 to January 2018, spans a period of one year six months for Liberia to have completed and published its ninth EITI Report," added the statement.
However, the entity said it is doing everything possible to get back on track with advice from the EITI Board.
According to the statement, the Weah's administration should not be held liable for what previous government failed to publish in 18 months.
The EITI Board noted in its decision to suspend Liberia that the extension requests had not been endorsed by Liberia's MSG, as the group had not been reconstituted since the end of its term in October 2017. The Board called on the Government of Liberia to reconstitute the MSG and to revitalize the implementation of the EITI, in partnership with industry and civil society organizations.
The EITI Board also declined Liberia's request for an extension of its second Validation deadline, noting that the request did not meet the criteria for an extension either.
In taking its decision, the Board noted that a reconstituted MSG could take stock of progress, publish the outstanding EITI Report and consider whether to submit a request to delay the commencement of Validation.
LEITI said it is committed to adhering to ideals and core values of the EITI and will do everything to ensure compliance for reinstatement.