Liberia EITI Surges Ahead

[img_assist|nid=361|title=|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=133|height=150]By T. Negbalee Warner
Head of Secretariat, LEITI

Liberia has been one of the most cursed of all resource-rich countries. Despite an abundance of iron ore, diamonds, gold, timber and rubber, Liberia was for fourteen years ravaged by a horrific civil war that disintegrated the nation and brought it near the bottom of the UN's Human Development Index, thanks to corruption and mismanagement of the country's abundant resources which also fuelled the war. When the war ended and general elections were held in 2005, the new present Government led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf vowed to ensure national growth and development through better revenue management.

Liberia has made excellent progress since committing to the EITI, and subsequently becoming an EITI candidate country on September 27, 2007. Liberia is the first country to decide to include forestry within its EITI scope based on historical experiences of persistent misuse of the forest wealth of the country; until recently, forestry represented 57% of total exports, but 6% of tax revenue.

According to Liberia's adopted costed work plan and a subsequent MOU signed by the stakeholders, the first EITI report of Liberia is scheduled to be produced before the end of October 2008.

Liberia's progress to date includes the following:

  1. The full and consistent engagement of all stakeholders; Members of the Stakeholders Steering Group have average consistent attendance and participation rate of 90%;
  2. The establishment and staffing of a capable three-person professional secretariat;
  3. The approval of a costed work plan along with the mobilization of about 80% of the funding resources required for a two-year fiscal period ending June 2009;
  4. Completion of the legal review to determine possible legal impediments to the implementation of the LEITI;
  5. The execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by stakeholders, formally committing themselves to the full implementation of the LEITI;
  6. Undertaking of a forestry scooping study to investigate and advise on the relative ease or difficulty that could attend the application of EITI principles to the forestry sector. The preliminary report of the Study was presented at a meeting of the Group on May 1, 2008, and a final report is due before the end of May 2008;
  7. Completion of reporting templates for the government and the private sector; and
  8. Finalization of the TOR for an independent LEITI administrator/auditor, along with authorization for the commencement of the recruitment process.

In addition, a comprehensive LEITI public outreach and general communications strategy is being developed to be completed and presented to the LEITI in May 2008.

With all the above activity, Liberia is well on the way to becoming a leader amongst EITI implementing countries despite being a late entrant. We believe that this will make a significant contribution to lifting Liberia out of its poverty-ridden past.

For more information about the Liberia and the EITI, visit www.eitiliberia.org.