The Speaker of the Lower House of the National Legislature, Alex Tyler, declared Monday that the next phase of the process of debating the legislation will shortly get underway and will include the holding of a round table stakeholders meeting and the compilation and harmonization of views and interventions emanating from consultations.
Said Speaker Tyler in a speech marking the return to work of the national legislature: “These synchronized views and proposed bills – which we intend to demarcate into two distinct bills, one specifically dealing with the local content and the other with the revenue management component, including the National Oil Company and the Petroleum and exploration bills forwarded to the House of Representatives by the Liberian Senate – will be presented at a National conference for the participation of all stakeholders, inclusive of political parties civil societies, the fourth estate and all interested persons.”
The speaker’s statement comes on the heels of a nationwide tour by lawmakers to gauge the views of citizens on the legislation currently being debated.
The House of Representatives is currently reviewing the draft Petroleum Exploration and Production Act 2013 (Petroleum Act) and the draft National Oil Company of Liberia Act 2013 (NOCAL Act) in early 2014.
A recent report by the watchdog group, Global Witness on the draft oil legislation raised concerns that there may not be insufficient political will within the Liberian Government to bring about the sweeping changes the sector needs.
The report says while the controversial oil draft legislation contains 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 in the country to fully realize the potential benefits of its emerging oil sector.
GW concluded that the success of the laws in developing a petroleum sector that supports the country’s economic development will be in part determined by the safeguards within the Revenue Management Bill which has yet to be developed.