The World Bank Group (WBG) has released its recent publication titled: ‘License To Drill’ to governmental and non-governmental bodies in order to help improve transparency and accountability in the extractive and mineral sectors of the country.
Presenting the book to the government and civil society organizations at a formal ceremony held at World Bank’s country office in Congo Town on Wednesday, the Bank’s Senior Financial Sector Specialist and lead author of the book, Cari Votava, said the venture is aimed at helping countries improve background checks on those wanting to obtain licenses in order to carry out concessions in both the natural resource and extractive sectors of the country.
She stated that improving the steps that lead to the issuance of license has become a high global development priority due to the extent to which corruption in these sectors has impeded economic development, and contributed to illicit financial flows.
Votava indicated that the publication will be important to Liberia in meeting the obligations of the requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), since it has committed to comply with those obligations.
“We hope the publication can be useful to officials and experts to reduce corruption risks in the natural resource and extractive sectors,” Votava emphasized.
For his part, the Deputy Minister for Operation at the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy (LME), Emmanuel O. Sherman, vowed to collaborate with other ministries and agencies of government involved in the issuance of licenses to improve background checks on beneficiary ownership, criminal background, and potential cases of conflict of interest.
He called for the establishment of a vigorous financial management system that will help capture all of the processes leading to the issuance of licenses for the betterment of the sectors.
Sherman indicated that the book is generic in terms of jurisdiction and resources as it highlights the mineral, oil and gas sectors, adding: “LME focuses on the mineral sector of the country, while the oil and gas sector is being handled by the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).”
The Mines minister assured the Bank of the government’s commitment to build the human resource capacity of the citizenry to enable them cope with future challenges they will encounter, stressing: “You may have all of the best systems and procedures in the world, but if you do not have the human resources the system will not be sustained.”
He promised to incorporate some of the points outlined in the book in his workflow because they are cardinal to the issuance of licenses.
Meanwhile, an official of the World Bank, Daniel Boakye, disclosed that the institution has over the years supported countries to improve transparency and accountability in critical areas in an effort to reduce or keep corruption at the minimum scale by ensuring that resources are used to effectively promote development initiatives.
He noted that the extractive and mineral industries are critical to the growth and development of every country that is resource dependent.
The World Bank Publication focuses on good practice options to conduct integrity checks on applicants wishing to obtain licenses, which include checks on beneficiary ownership, criminal background and conflict of interest in order to ensure licenses are granted only to those likely to meet high integrity standards in developing a country’s valuable assets.