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LIETI boss decries lack of access to information

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Difficulties in accessing information from government ministries and agencies is said to be hindering the reporting duty of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or LEITI, Officer-In-Charge Jeffery Nukata Yates, discloses here.

Serving as Lead Panelist Tuesday, 22 September at a Policy Dialogue on Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the Management of Extractive Industries to Enhance National Development in Liberia held in Monrovia, Mr. Yates disclosed that ministries and agencies often renege in making available relevant information that should enhance LEITI’s reporting process.

He explains that the primary mandate of LEITI is to verify payments made to government by concession companies, ensure they are accounted for and utilized for the entire citizenry.

O-I-C Yates recommends a need for adequate effort towards production and export data and to appoint focus persons in various ministries and agencies who will be exclusively responsible to collaborate with the LEITI in its reporting process.

Under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative principles, member countries are required to declare production value and export value of natural resources. Liberia joined the EITI regime in 2008, becoming its 14th member.

The one-day Police Dialogue, held under the auspices of the Governance Commission, brought together stakeholders, international partners Civil Society members. Other panelists at the high table were Minister of Mines and Energy Gesler E. Murray and Auditor General, Madam Yusador S. Gaye.

GC Acting Executive Director Ms Cecelia Flomo describes the theme of the dialogue as critical to the core of the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity, PADP.

Second panelist, Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray reiterates concerns about illicit Alluvial mining activities across the countries by foreigners, most of them assisted by local authorities and citizens.

He says these illegal miners are of various nationalities including Ghanaians, Burkinabes, Nigerians, Togolese and Chinese, among others, and they are being accommodated by chiefs and traditional leaders who give their daughters to them in marriage.

He points to lack of capacity and resources to addressing the situation and recommends need for both soft and hardware devices, including drones, 4-Wheel Drive vehicles, among others to pursue the illegal migrants.

However, third panelist – Liberia’s Auditor General Madam Yusador S. Gaye, seems not to be happy over the slow manner in which the country is proceeding in its commitment to accountability and transparency, saying “We are little bite backward; it is difficult to get documentation.” She says with Liberia having 50 percent of West Africa’s rain forest along with other natural endowments, the country ought to do more in ensuring its citizens benefit from these resources. Story by Jonathan Browne

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