Liberia Scores 81.5 In Extractive Industries’ Transparency Standard; EITI Board Commends Weah Gov’t

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The administration of President George M. Weah has made a breakthrough in the extractive industry sector regarding performance and adhering to international best practice, with a prompt commendation from the Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

   The Weah administration achieved 81.5 points on outcomes and impact, described by the EITI Board as high score. The government also made a breakthrough with 75 points on stakeholder engagement, and a near-passing score of 69.5 on transparency.

   In a letter addressed to His Excellency President George Manneh Weah, the EITI Board informed the President of the results of Liberia’s validation under the revised EITI Standard, revealing that Liberia had achieved a moderate overall score of 75 points in implementing the 2019 EITI Standard. “This result reflects the high-level commitment and dedication of your government, key office holders, staff and multi-stakeholder group members to harness the EITI as a platform to advance reforms, inform public debate, and improve access to information on the mining, oil and gas, forestry, and agriculture sectors,” the EITI letter to President Weah, dated June 17, 2022, noted.

   According to the EITI, it was clear from the validation that steps have been taken to rebuild the EITI process following resolution of governance issues within the National Secretariat in 2018/19, and that efforts to use the EITI as a platform to bring about reform and debate in the extractive sector have subsequently been resumed. The international group said there are opportunities to build further on these efforts by improving transparency around the award of extractive rights, the beneficial ownership of companies, contracts and the operations of the national oil company, while ensuring that EITI objectives are aligned with national priorities for the extractive industries.

   However, the EITI Board determined that Liberia will have until the next validation, commencing on April 1, 2024, to carry out fourteen corrective actions and to consider the strategic recommendations from the validation. “The International EITI Secretariat stands ready to support you and the multi-stakeholder group in your efforts to take forward implementation of the EITI Standard. We hope that the recommendations stemming from the validation are helpful in directing these efforts,” the group assured.

   The EITI Board commended President Weah and his government for the continued progress in implementing the 2019 EITI Standard in Liberia.

   It can be recalled that in September 2018, the EITI Board suspended Liberia over its failure to publish the EITI report for the fiscal period of June 2016 up to the July 1, 2018 deadline.

   The EITI said at the time that it came to the decision following a request by the Liberian government to extend the reporting deadline set by the EITI Standard, which the Board found that the request did not meet the criteria for granting an extension.

   The EITI Board said then that it would lift the suspension once Liberia’s outstanding EITI Report is endorsed by the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) and published within six months of the deadline (by 31st December 2018), in accordance with the Standard, the EITI Board. 

   However, in a communication from the Secretariat to members of the MSG members, dated Friday, May 24, 2019, signed by Country Manager Murjanatu I. Gamawa, stakeholders were told to reaffirm Liberia’s suspension from the extractive industry body.

    The LEITI debacle was one of the first dark spot for the Weah-led government. In March 2018, the President sparked a controversy when he named Gabriel Nyenkan as head of the Secretariat, drawing rebuke from international stakeholders, with the global anti-graft institution, Global Witness (GW) calling for an immediate withdrawal of the nominee.

   Nyenkan’s replacement of Konah Karmo, who was appointed by the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) of LEITI in 2014, following a competitive recruitment process in which several other individuals and institutions participated, was later following by Nyenkan’s storming of the offices of the LEITI secretariat with armed police officers in tow and demanding that its head, Karmo, leave the building. Karmo is reported to have complied with Nyekan’s orders, given at virtual gunpoint.

   Global Witness termed the illegal removal of LEITI Head Secretariat, Karmo, as clear violation of the act that created the anti-graft entity.

   Global Witness wrote, “Global Witness strongly condemns the illegal removal of Mr. Karmo, Head of Secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI). The firing of Mr. Karmo by President George Weah, who has replaced him with Gabriel Nyenkan, violates Liberian law and severely undermines the independence of Liberia’s critical anti-corruption agency.”

   Meanwhile, all the hullabaloo with the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI) has been laid to rest, with the Weah government making strides to meet the standards of the international transparency group, which has yielded fruitful results and getting the suspension of the country lifted.

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