Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Liberia; the civil society Coalition on the extractive Industries in Liberia has begun what it calls a vigorous campaign to popularize the second annual report of the Liberia Extractive Industries transparency Initiatives (LEITI). PWYP Liberia says it major primary goal is to follow monies that are reported in the LEITI 2-annual report on the extractive sector. LEITI is the local archetype of the global organization the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI).
The LEITI annual report covers a total record of payment made by companies exploiting Liberia’s natural resources and received by the government. Mr. Philip Sandi chairman of the board of representatives of PWYP-Liberia Coalition told this paper his organization focus is to ensure that Liberians at the village level understand the LEITI report. He noted that any successful advocacy initiative begins with the acquisition of knowledge which he emphasized Liberians need to demand transparency in the natural resource sector.
The popularization exercise is funded by the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI). At a four day workshop to jump start the ongoing popularization exercise last august, the senior campaigner for the environmental lawyers Green Advocates, Cllr. Alfred L. Brownell who also served as key facilitator at the workshop challenged PWYP-Liberia Coalition members to prioritize knowledge sharing with the local population if their advocacy initiative for resource transparency will make any difference. Cllr. Brownell, who took the workshop participants through four days of crash intensive training to understand the entire EITI process, pointed out that civil society actors’ role lies at the foundation of proper resource governance in every country.
He noted that Liberia has a history of the mismanagement of its natural resources by political leaders.“Our intent is to reverse what is seen as a resource curse”, Cllr. Brownell furthered.
PWYP-Coalition members currently on the field across the country will promote “ownership” of the initiative at the national and local levels, through fostering coordinated and organized mechanism for deepening civil society and local communities’ attitude towards the demand for social accountability within the extractive sector from their political leaders and state institutions.
The country has been divided into four regions administered to four five member teams’ clusters. The exercise is expected to last for 30-days with town hall meetings at each district level across the country. PWYP-Liberia Coalition campaigners are also expected to follow up revenue captured in the National budget tied to communities in the names of social development and or county development funds. The PWYP teams will also engage local authorities and residents in concession areas on their perceptions about companies operating in their areas. The head of the PWYP secretariat Francis Colee noted that the exercise is necessary if resource governance will be periodically reviewed.
Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Liberia is a national civil society coalition formally launched in Liberia on August 8, 2006, an archetype of PWYP international with the sole purpose to campaign for transparency in the payment, receipt and management of revenues from the oil, gas and mining industries.
The PWYP Liberia campaign calls for the mandatory disclosure of tax, fee and royalty payments made by oil, gas and mining companies to governments for the extraction of natural resources on a country-by-country basis. The campaign is convinced that this is a necessary first step towards a more accountable system for the management of revenues in resource-rich developing countries such as Liberia, and for the reduction of poverty and corruption in the country. Liberia EITI covers the traditional oil, gas and mining industries and the agriculture and forestry sectors.
It is agreed, locally and internationally, that if Governments, in resource-rich countries, manage these revenues transparently and effectively, they could serve as a basis for successful economic growth and poverty reduction. This remains the challenge. PWYP Liberia has a membership of 20-lead civil society organization working in concert to promote natural resource transparency.