The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has held its 6th Global Conference in Sydney, Australia, from May 23-24, 2013, with Liberia’s role as a model for EITI implementation increasingly recognized.
Liberia was represented at the global event by Vice President Joseph Boikai, Senate Pro-Tempore Gbehzongar M. Findley, the Head of Secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), Samson S. Tokpah as well as several other stakeholders of the Liberian EITI process. In recognition of its leadership in the EITI implementation, Liberia was mentioned in almost every discussion, with its programs and activities often referenced for replication. Early this year, EITI Board Chair, Clare Short, in an invitation letter to President Sirleaf, acknowledged that Liberia’s EITI implementation record has been exemplary and is a reminder that strong commitment to transparency can translate to comprehensive efforts to increase accountability along the revenues’ chain and, ultimately, contribute to good governance of the extractive sectors.
At the Conference, a new EITI standard was agreed and launched, promising a more robust EITI and focusing on how transparency and the EITI can impact changes in the implementing countries. A new Board responsible to provide strategic direction, guide and oversee the EITI at an international level for the next three years, was also confirmed and commissioned at the Conference. Liberia and other implementing countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Sao Tome, Zambia and Tanzania, categorized as “Africa Region Block 1”, are represented on the Board by the Senate Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Gbehzongar M. Findley, with Ghana serving as an Alternate to Liberia.
Serving as one of several keynote speakers at the event, Vice President Boikai addressed the Conference on a number of issues, especially on the progress of the EITI process in Liberia and other major gains the country has made in promoting revenue transparency and accountability. Liberia has regularly published and disseminated its EITI reports; encouraged public involvement in the resource debate through various means, including establishing extractive clubs in the high schools; strengthened its media engagement to ensure increased public access to information about the EITI process; and promoted and supported contract transparency and disaggregated reporting. On the eve of the EITI Global Conference, Liberia launched its 4th EITI Report and EITI landmark and Liberia’s first Post Award Process Audit Report. The 4th EITI Report includes material payments of taxes and royalties as well as In-kind contributions, track the use of earmarked payments from extractive companies, reconciliation on what “ought to have been paid”. The 4th Report shows that during the period under review (July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011), the extractive sector contributed US$117m to the Liberian economy, a 65% increment in what was reported in the previous year. The Process Audit shows major lapses in the award of concession rights in the oil, mining, agriculture, and forestry sectors.
Vice President Boakai noted that such gains represent commitment by the government and all other stakeholders.
Also, at an extra evening session convened by the LEITI Secretariat and the University of Sydney, Vice President Boakai spoke on a wide range of issues relating to investment in Liberia and the prudent management of the country’s natural resources. The forum also enabled the Liberian students in Sydney to interact with the Vice President and other members of the EITI process in Liberia in seeking ways to bring increased transparency and accountability around the country’s extractive resources.
The Sydney Conference also included a National Expo Sessions that allowed individual implementing countries to showcase activities they are undertaking to improve transparency in their countries.
The EITI Global Conference is an important international forum for the discussion of improved governance of oil, gas and mining activities. It offers an opportunity for countries to share lessons, establish networks and address future challenges. This year’s conference was attended by 1,200 participants from 96 countries.
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