We called you here today to witness the launch of reports from four major exercises/studies recently commissioned by the Multi-stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI). The launch of the 6th EITI Report for Liberia, Beneficial Ownership Disclosure Report, Mining Sector Scoping Study Report as well as the abridged version of contracts in the extractive sectors, represents yet, another significant set of gains made by Liberia in implementing the EITI and promoting increased transparency and accountability in the governance of the country’s natural resource wealth.
The 6th EITI Report for Liberia
The 6th EITI Report for Liberia, commissioned by the MSG in March 2015 and prepared by Moore Stephens (UK) in collaboration with Parker and Associates LLC, contains reconciled accounts of payments made to, and revenues received by the Government of Liberia from the oil, mining, forestry and agricultural companies during the Fiscal Year July 1, 2012 up to and including June 30, 2013.
The Report shows that the total amount received by the Government of Liberia from the oil, mining, forestry and agriculture sectors for the period under review amounted to One Hundred Eighty-five Million, Nine Hundred Sixty Thousand United States Dollars (US$185, 960m), while payment data supplied by eighty (80) companies amounted to One Hundred Seventy-Nine Million, Nine Hundred Eighty-three Thousand United States Dollars (US$179,983,000.00), resulting to a net difference of Five Million Three Hundred and Sixty-one Thousand Dollars (US$5,361,000.00). This means that the Government of Liberia acknowledged receiving Five Million Three Hundred and Sixty-one Thousand Dollars more in revenue than what the companies reported as taxes paid. Also, the data shows that direct government revenue from the extractive sectors increased by nearly sixty-nine percent (69%) from US$110.14m for the Fiscal Year 2011/2012 to US$185.96m in Fiscal Year 2012/2013.
The 6th Report also shows that the extractive sectors contributed to 4.11% of the total employment in Liberia during the reporting period and as well recorded payment data of In-kind Contributions made by extractive companies to the local communities and public institutions and tracked revenues from earmarked payments in various concessions agreements.
The Beneficial Ownership Disclosure
In March 2014, the MSG also commissioned the conduct of an audit exercise intended to disclose the beneficial owners of at least 5% of companies involved in the extraction and exploitation of Liberia’s oil, mining, forestry and agricultural resources. Liberia is one of eleven (11) EITI implementing countries that took the courage to pilot this project. The audit exercise was conducted by the firm Baker Tilly Liberia in collaboration with Hart Nurse UK and involved 90 companies in total. The report being launched today details ownership rights of those companies including natural persons having shares in them, the number and values of their shares and information on Shareholders of those establishments. We are committed to make these findings accessible to the public and hope that these efforts will enhance public confidence in the resource governance process and further strengthen contract transparency.
Mining Sector Scoping Study Report
The third of the reports being launched today contains findings of a study conducted in considering the possibilities of including all payments and revenue from the solid mineral sector. The solid mineral sector is believed to be dominated by large scale and artisanal and small-scale mining and quarry operations, but revenues from this sector have not been fully included in the LEITI annual reconciliation reports. Specifically, the study, among other things, examined the scale of operations surrounding artisanal and small scale-mining including the licensing procedures, registration and revenue payments as well as identified key players or available networks, locations of their operations and strategic opportunities available for the full inclusion of the sector in the implementation of the EITI. The exercise is crucial to promoting full disclosure of taxes and revenue data from the extractive industries.
The Contract Matrix (Contract Simplification)
In addition to other reports being launched today, the LEITI has also made great efforts in ensuring increased public understanding of, and access to contracts that the Government of Liberia signed with extractive companies. As you may be aware, concession agreements and contracts are sometimes complex with legal diction and huge volumes. These complexities have made it challenging for the average citizens to understand the terms and conditions of these agreements even though they have stake in them. In this vein, the LEITI has simplified 26 concession agreements, summarizing basic terms in the contracts that are of high relevance to the citizens.
The conduct of these exercises and launch of these reports today is not the end of the campaign. Part of the process is to discuss the findings of these reports with the citizens and solicit their views on the recommendations. Hence, the launch of the reports will be followed by massive dissemination exercises including extensive outreach throughout the fifteen counties of Liberia. Additionally, the MSG is committed to further reviewing the findings and recommendations of the reports with the aim of identifying areas for policy design, implementation and evaluation.
These initiatives are very crucial and cannot be achieved without the participation of all stakeholders of the LEITI process including you members of the press. In your traditional role as agenda setters, the LEITI depends on you to raise the platform of the EITI process in Liberia and to create awareness and educate the public on the findings of these reports and other studies conducted to promote transparent resource management in Liberia.
Finally, we are grateful to our partners who have generously supported these initiatives—the USAID that funded the 6th Report and Scoping Study; the UNDP that funded the Beneficial Ownership Disclosure Exercise and the GIZ that supported the Contract Matrix Project.
We look forward to a collaborative effort that will ensure increased transparency in the management of the country’s vast natural resources.