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Govt’s credibility harmed

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-Pres. Sirleaf concedes

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says the work of Global Witness has seriously harmed the credibility of her government. She however says government has since been trying to take corrective actions to make sure that it does not face such situations again.

Meeting with the secretariat of Liberia’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or LEITI Tuesday, 26 April President Sirleaf said the first time her government was shocked by the work of the EITI was when “the most serious report came out” against the Private Use Permits or PUPs revelations.

“Fortunately, lot of work was done on that; that led to the cancellation of so many things. And I must say that it seriously harmed the credibility of this government as a result of the Work of Global Witness and all those things that they’re doing,” Mrs. Sirleaf said.

She argued that much of what was at fault with the [PUPs] was not the result of fraudulent transactions, but procedural errors, noting that the representation around the room might have warned government in time that procedures were not being complied with to have enable it take corrective actions well in time.

The President expressed hope that since that time, her government has been trying to take corrective actions to make sure that it does not face similar situation again, particularly acknowledging that there has been other reports since then which have been claiming government’s attention.

She says reconciliation effort has been made, as she expressed pleasure to hear from the LEITI Secretariat that Liberia has met the EITI requirement.

President Sirleaf recalled that Liberia started with transparency and accountability following her conversation with George Soros, encouraging support toward the initiative in recognition of government’s commitment on transparency.

She said that evolved into what is now the extractive industries transparency initiative or EITI, which initially covered the mineral sector and subsequently the forestry sector. According to her, she just noticed that rocks and sand have just been added, as she frankly told the LEITI Secretariat that such information needed to have reached the cabinet because “nobody in this room has the authority to decide on how you will classify rocks and sand or any other assets without the knowledge and approval of cabinet.”

She cautioned that if they want to get compliance, they must give information. LEITI head of secretariat Mr. Konah D. Karmo, told President Sirleaf that Liberia met the EITI requirement 2013 standard for regular reporting, and LEITI now wants to speed up the regularity of its reporting so that it can be used … for decision making.

But as it relates to the issue of rocks and sand mining, Mr. Karmo clarified that the decision has not yet been taken, but it is being study to see if it is appropriate to include them in the EITI cross benefit analysis perspective.

Earlier, Deputy Lands and Mines Minister Mr. Stephen B. Dorbor, Sr., who chairs LEITI Board, said the lack of transparency does not only lead to financial losses, but also future disorders as well as environmental degradation, which are visible from time to time in society.

He reported to President Sirleaf that Liberia is currently in full compliance with the EITI international and its 2013 standards. He says they are preparing right now for validation in few months to come. He recalled four cardinal reports launched in December 2015, which includes Liberia’s sixth EITI report that covered July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.

By Winston W. Parley

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