Liberia’s Senate Committee chair on Lands, Mines Energy and Natural Resources and Environment Mr. Albert Chie says the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL was “spending big” and had “big corporate social responsibility programs” when the country had not yet found oil.
“What we found out generally was that NOCAL was operating as if Liberia had found oil; but we had not found oil yet and NOCAL was spending big,” said Sen. Chie told Prime Morning Drive or PMD hosted on Prime Fm 105.5 on Tuesday, 23 February.
The oil company suffered a severe financial crisis that resulted to laying off staff amidst a glaring collapse of the entity in 2015. Worst of it all is Sen. Chie’s accusations against the Board of NOCAL for allegedly being involved in decision-making “as if they were in management”, drawing the conclusion that check and balance was therefore lacking in the entity.
But he argued that “to establish criminality”, audit has to be conducted, something he says the Legislature has suggested. “And we understand from NOCAL that the president has written the General Auditing Commission to conduct an audit. So when the audit report comes up before it establish criminality,” he said.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf last year took responsibility for the managerial and financial crisis, though she argued that as head of the country, she had a very able senior management and director entrusted to make decisions on behalf of the country.
But Sen. Chie has cited lots of travels within in NOCAL, while employments jumped to 160 persons from 29 persons in 2007, though he says some of these employees were doing the same jobs.He recalled that the NOCAL saga came about sometime in June when the Senate heard that the institution was not performing, and subsequently invited NOCAL to a public hearing during which the entity admitted that it was facing financial difficulties.
After a joint committee investigation was conducted by the Senate and House, the Grand Kru Senator says the Legislature found that NOCAL had a big corporate social responsibility program as if it were an oil producing entity, and the spending went on.
He said a full report was made after one month and debated in Plenary before the Legislature suggested reduction of staff and budget cut at NOCAL. He said the Legislature also recommended that people be paid severance in accordance with the Liberian laws; but says such determination was left to the lawyers.
Already, he says low level employees have been paid except the executives while the NOCAL and the Ministry of Labor look into the matter.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah