GC ends roundtable on local content policy
The Governance Commission (GC), in partnership with the National Investment Commission has held a two-day roundtable on local content policy to help promote growth and development of the local private sector and its human resource capacity by utilizing opportunities generated by large-scale investments in the natural resource sector of Liberia.
The Government of Liberia has been working to craft a policy necessary to ensure there is sufficient linkage between the local economy and foreign enterprises. By setting specific performance requirements, the Government aims to ensure that the benefits that Liberia seeks to obtain from foreign direct investment including improved technology and managerial skills are integrated into the domestic market and distribution networks.
Speaking at the second section of public deliberation on the draft policy, the Vice Chairperson of the Governance Commission, Elizabeth Dorkin, said the local content policy will help facilitate and increase linkages between local economic actors and concession holders.
Commissioner Dorkin believes, “this can be done by holding regular meetings with investors to ensure that they comply with current arrangements targeting the protection of local content clauses and implementation in our laws when concluding concession agreements.”
She said when completed, it will allow government to review current procurement practices by concession holders, specifically highlighting areas where goods and services are wholly or largely imported in the previous years by concession holders, for internationally-procured goods and services
She noted that the policy is necessary to ensure there is sufficient linkage between the local economy and foreign enterprises because by setting specific performance requirements, the Liberian government aims to ensure that the benefits the country seeks to obtain from foreign direct investments, including improved technology and management skills are integrated into the domestic market and distribution network.
Commissioner Dorkin added that the policy will also help provide benchmark for negotiation of investment agreements which will be guided by stipulations in the policy and applied not only to their affiliates such as operators, contractors, subcontractors and other entities involved in any project, operation, activity or transaction in Liberia.
“The local content policy will also streamline measures so that investors are not unduly burdened with the requirements for local content.” Madam Dorkin said.
She explained that the policy will also help improve the local economy by leveraging linkages to foreign direct investments beyond revenues generated because it takes into consideration the value brought to the local, regional or national economy from the extractive sector.
The Governance Commission Vice Chairperson maintained that local content strives to ensure that all companies hire local labor and procure local goods and services.
Also speaking, Francis Mwatt, an agricultural economist at the Ministry of Agriculture, said local content helps improve the smallholder business sector.
“I would have love for those in the domestic industries to have been here in the thousand,” he said; adding: “because the local content policy will look at them.”
According to him, the local content will also look the direction of business people who are outside of the normal circle of government regulations, yallna boys and others.
“We need to create the enabling environment for people from the private sector to drive the economy and I hope that we continue to engage the private sectors”, Mr. Mwatt added.
During the discussion, Emmanuel Togba, Chief Executive Officer at Aminata and Sons; James Strother, President of the Liberia Business Association; and Edwin Dennis, Director General of the National Bureau of Concessions served as panelists.
CEO Togba called on participants to be proscriptive and give more opportunities to Liberians in the policy, stressing that practical limits should be what Liberians can’t do but it’s good that Liberians participate hundred percent in all of the applicable areas.
For his part, Director Dennis emphasized that the Local Content Law is a specialized law for a specific cause that has to do with empowering Liberian businesses and individuals so it must focus on elevating Liberian businesses to a level that will allow them compete and perform better.
The President of the LBA, James Strother, called on policymakers to do more to widen the space for Liberian businesses through the local content policy in order to enhance Liberia’s private sector growth and address critical issues and challenges.
He specifically pointed to the need to address conditions around borrowing money from banks, to ensure that Liberian businesses are guarded and protected to remain in business and compete for growth for the good of the economy and development.
The discussion brought together representatives from the Liberia Extractive Transparency Initiative, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Bureau of Investment, ArcelorMittal Liberia, and the National Investment Commission, among many others. Editing by Jonathan Browne