By Ethel A Tweh
The Plenary of the Liberian Senate, sitting as a Committee of a Whole, has held a public hearing with the head of the Secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative or LEITI, Mr. Jeffery Yates.
Mr. Yates was cited recently to appear before the Committee of a Whole to provide requisite information about his work, including compliance issues of various mining and logging companies in the country, as well as workplan.
Taking the witness stand, Mr. Yates told members of the Senate that he saw his appearance as an opportunity to interact with senators.
He named lack of computers, vehicles and other office equipment as some of the constraints the entity is faced with.
During interaction on the Senate floor, senators pledged their commitment to assist the LEITI to achieve its objectives in ensuring transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.
He told the Senate that the entity’s cardinal responsibility is to ensure global standards for transparency and accountability in reporting of revenue from the country’s natural resources.
Mr. Yates also said that this will not only help to improve the investment climate of Liberia, but also increase government revenue, and at the same time ensure that benefits due communities on account of extraction of their natural resources are duly paid to them.
However, he emphasized the need for the entity to score high in the next validation exercise that is due in 2024.
Commenting on other challenges, the LEITI Head of Secretariat pointed to lack of adequate budgetary support for effective running of the entity.
LEITI’s appearance before the Senate Plenary is in furtherance of earlier commitment by Senate President Pro-tempore Albert T. Chie to ensure the august body promotes the work of LEITI and provides budgetary support.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Yates said, he and his team will closely collaborate with the Legislature, especially the Liberian Senate during the budget process for support needed to help the entity realize its full potential.
He revealed that the entity planned to forge partnership with the Senate for easy access to concession agreements, which he said, has been very difficult to obtain over the years, hindering timely review of concession documents.