11 December 2013, Monrovia – The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex J. Tyler says the ongoing consultations on the Draft Petroleum Legislation for Liberia will be climaxed with a national conference next year before any decision is reached by the legislative body.
On the final leg of the consultations in Bentol City Monday, Speaker Tyler cautioned critics that no amount of criticism will detract the body from this process which he says will be climaxed by a national conference There will be a national conference that will climax this process where our ideas will be put together.”
The Speaker said, Liberians have for long been caretakers of their resources and not beneficiaries but committed the legislature under his leadership to not compromising anything that will benefit the ordinary Liberian.
In early 2014, the Liberian House of Representatives will review the draft Petroleum Exploration and Production Act 2013 (Petroleum Act) and the draft National Oil Company of Liberia Act 2013 (NOCAL Act).
In September, the Senate passed the act without public consultation but the House consulted with civil society and chose not to pass the acts at that point and instead took the act on the road to the various counties in a bid to gauge public opinion on the draft.
Critics, including Global Witness have raised concerns at the speed at which authorities sought to have the draft passed into law.
GW alarmed that while the efforts to consult and inform the Liberian people are welcomed, each county will be given very little time to read, consider and respond to two very complicated and important acts.
Already the watchdog group, Global Witness has raised red flags about some of the contents in the draft, suggesting that while the draft acts contain some progressive and positive provisions, including requirements for the public disclosure of the ultimate beneficial owners of companies and strong transparency provisions, there are areas that need to be improved for the country to fully realize the potential benefits of its emerging oil sector.
GW says several factors have raised concerns that there may be insufficient political will within the Liberian Government to bring about the sweeping changes the sector needs.