The fall in the price of cruel oil on the global market has caused serious fiscal difficulties for the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company, Counselor Seward Cooper has explained.
Cllr. Cooper said as a result, the company is left with no options other than putting in place a company-wide restructuring plan to include personnel and related administrative and operational adjustments that could significantly reduce the entity’s overhead costs.
NOCAL ‘s financial stability has come under public scrutiny over the past month with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf publicly declaring that she is awaiting an audit of the entity’s finances to take an informed decision moving forward. But she was also quick to admit during a radio talk show conversation with the President that falling oil prices has also played a role.
Addressing NOCAL’s management and staff Friday, August 21, at a general staff meeting, Cllr. Cooper said despite the best efforts of Board and Management to put in place several austerity measures to manage the situation, the continuing crumbling oil prices have severely undermined NOCAL’s capacity to meet its operational and personnel obligations.
Hence NOCAL has embarked on an internal re-organization exercise aimed at ensuring the survival of the entity going forward. Disclosing that management will work out the details of the plan with each staff/employee in the coming weeks, Counselor Cooper called on the NOCAL family to show understanding for the personnel reduction and re-arrangement scheme.
He stressed that the restructuring and administrative adjustments will affect every layer of the company, including the Board and Management, and a new recruitment or re-employment exercise will be guided by the highest standards of transparency, with the Board having hired an external consultant to carry out the entire process.
The NOCAL board chairman also emphasized that what is taking place at the company is not unique, as several State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in the country and usually productive sectors such as Agriculture and Mining continue to struggle to stay afloat in the face of the overall decline in global economic activities.
Counselor Cooper then reminded the NOCAL staff and employees that “despite the unfortunate and unexpected situation that we at NOCAL find ourselves in now, we must nevertheless never forget that NOCAL has had some good times that have benefitted not only the NOCAL family, but the Government and people of this country as a whole.”
He declared that “We are indeed very proud of what NOCAL, at the best of times, have done for our people, especially in regard to our CSR interventions in such areas as granting local and international scholarships, support to the University of Liberia, capacity building for our young people, public transportation, the efforts to beat back the Ebola virus, water and sanitation, among others.”
He then appealed to the workforce that despite “these hard times that have hit us, we must all now come together to stand as one family to deal with the situation in a way that can help our sector and country move forward.”
He then thanked Management and Staff for the quality level of productivity each and every one of them has rendered to NOCAL and by extension to the country. He then encouraged those employees who wish to continue to work at a restructured NOCAL not to hesitate to apply for positions that will be advertised in due course. Following a question and answer period, during which employees sought clarifications on the reorganization plan, some staff expressed thanks to the board and management for the briefing, saying they look forward to timely receiving their severance packages. -Edited by Othello B. Garblah