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-CENTAL Mining Corruption Risks Assessment Report Reveals
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) said for close to a century now, unregulated legal concession processes are being awarded to companies without due diligence.

In a report launched Tuesday December 5, 2017 at a local hotel in Monrovia, CENTAL research consultant Randall M. Makor indicated that for almost a century now, Liberia’s economy has been shaped by concessional activities. Particularly, mining of iron ore, gold, diamond, including lending of arable agriculture land have been the leading sources of national income. It dates back as far as 1926, when Liberia entered “a one million acres concession deal for ninety nine (99) years with Firestone without a well-regulated legal award process that could yield optimal economic benefits”.

“Collusion, extortion, facilitation payments/ bribery, manipulation, abuse of power and vested interest are major corruption risks and vulnerabilities identified. This is particularly common among public officials and powerful industrial executives who connive to exploit the system for personal gains,” one of CENTAL findings revealed.

He said due to heavy reliance on extractive revenues for economic growth and development, succeeding governments continue to award concessions to companies without due diligence and full compliance with relevant laws and policies. A Global Witness (2010) report also indicated that, “Liberia, in its rush to restart the forest and mining sectors, the Government is repeating past mistakes that resulted into resource-fuelled instability, corruption and poverty”. Adding, the “Government is mismanaging its forest and minerals, breaking its own laws and giving contracts to companies that are not paying their taxes
Indicative of overreliance on extractive revenues, “between 1944 and 1971, the number of concession companies increased in the mining sector3” . This coincided with introduction of the “Open Door Policy” under former President William V.S Tubman. During this period, “the capital inflow increase drastically amounting to $420 million due to foreign direct investment”.
According to Makor, the sole purpose governments then, was to enhance economic growth and political stability through concession and trade agreements, which brought in the Liberia American Swedish Mining Company (LAMCO) and Bong Mining Company (BMC) among others. “This led to huge boom in foreign direct investment in the 1950s that generated enormous revenues in the tune of Billion United States Dollars from the extraction of iron ore and export of rubber. Liberia experienced economic growth and became one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, this massive growth in GPD could not alleviate poverty or enhance economic development of its small growing population.”
He added that in part, this can be likened to the “Dutch Disease” phenomenon whereby growth in national income from the extraction of natural resources does not translate into economic development. From the research, multiple corruption risks and vulnerabilities were identified in Liberia’s mining sector, chiefly around licensing and concession granting processes.
The CENTAL research consultant said of the 13 corruption risks identified and analyzed, four were ranked as top priorities. And they were prioritized not only because of the cumulative scores derived from the likelihood and impact, but based on their revealing impacts on the economy and affected mining communities as well as feasibility of being mitigated.
“This research”, he maintained, “was conducted by CENTAL as part of Transparency International’s Mining for Sustainable Development (M4SD) Program, being implemented in 20 countries worldwide.” Generally, he added, it seeks to identify, analyze and proffer recommendations to address corruption risks and vulnerabilities in processes leading to the award of mining licenses, permits and contracts in Liberia. The overarching objective is to ensure transparency and accountability in the licensing process to boost government revenues and address long-standing issues of corruption and bad governance that have undermined effectiveness of the sector. Moreover, it intends to address felt needs of affected mining communities and improves sustainable economic growth and development in the country. The study was performed by a consultant and a representative from CENTAL, between February and November 2017 in Montserrado with field visits to mining communities in Bong and Nimba Counties.
He indicated that following careful examination of the licensing process, through desk research (analysis of laws, policies and regulations), and field work, comprising meetings, interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders (including government officials, mining companies, civil society, media actors and ordinary citizens, and affected mining communities), the below key findings have emerged:
First, there is widespread corruption across the entire mining value chain, especially the licensing and concession granting processes.
On behalf of CENTAL, Makor cited that the governance of the sector is wide-ranging with complexities that negatively impinge on effective functioning as one of the findings. There are varying legal and institutional frameworks for mining activities- key among them are the Mining and Mineral Law of 2000; the Regulations and Guidelines on Mineral Exploration including statutory bodies and ad-hoc committees that manage and supervise the sector. They include the Ministry of
The Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy; National Investment Commission; Environmental Protection Agency; National Bureau of Concession; Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC); the Presidency; and Legislature are all agencies and ministries collaborate to award various mining rights to investors.
However, the award process is characterized by complexities, especially delays in processing contracts and licenses; unclear application procedures; and multiple actors singing onto concessions.
Third, he said there is limited enforcement of laws and regulations as well as deliberate disregard for key requirements. Due diligence in reviewing applications and properly scrutinizing draft concession agreements is weak and ineffective. Among other things, the Legislature and Inter Ministerial Concession Committee knowingly fail to properly negotiate better deals and award concessions as well as rectify gaps associated with the licensing process; and
According to him, major stakeholders, especially citizens’ participation and access to essential information are exceedingly limited, thereby leading to frequent violation of affected mining communities’ rights. Specifically, stakeholders’ consultation pursuant to Section 90 of Public Procurement Concession Act, including Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), which provides for meaningful citizens’ engagement and participation in decisions in awarding their lands for concessional activities, have not been fully applied.
To address these vulnerabilities and corruption risks in the licensing process, he provided the following recommendations as proposed for consideration
“Strengthen anti-corruption measures and institutions to combat entrenched culture of impunity, which has undermined enforcement of laws and integrity building efforts in the country over the years. This entails increased political will at the highest level; promoting robust check and balance system; and taking pragmatic actions to address impunity and other enablers of corruption and bad governance in the system,” he maintained.
He recommended further that there is a need to streamline and simplify the application procedures and contracting process to avoid complexities involved with acquiring license. Among other actions, reduce the number of actors signing unto concession agreements; abide by the “First In First Access (FIFA)” principle; and timely publicize information at every stage of the award process;
“Ensure scrupulous enforcement of mineral and mining laws and regulations as well as anti-corruption measures at all times to reduce corrupt practices and secure deals that will maximize social and economic benefits for the country. Also, make sure that those who serve on IMCC have integrity; are knowledgeable; and are compelled to act with transparency and accountability in making award decisions
Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) works to create and strengthen a participatory social movement across all sectors of society to fight corruption, improve governance, reduce poverty, and build a culture of integrity among all peoples and institutions in Liberia.”
CENTAL is established with the conviction that increased citizens’ participation in the public and private sectors, through awareness and sensitization, the conduct of quality research, and forging links with international and local institutions committed to the fight against corruption would strengthen and encourage accountability and transparency nationwide.
The group is based in Monrovia, but has a cadre of integrity ambassadors in parts of the country through it Integrity Clubs.

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