MONROVIA, Montserrado – President George Weah has constituted a special committee to review all existing government concessions and agreements.
The Executive Mansion made the disclosure on Wednesday, briefly before Weah’s departure for France and Morocco on official visits.
According to the release, the nine-member Special Review Committee would evaluate all concessions and agreements including contracts entered by and between the government, concessionaires, and contractors.
The committee, chaired by the president’s legal advisor, Archie Bernard, is also mandated to ensure that agreements entered by the government and private institutions are properly implemented in line with laws and the terms of the agreements. It will also make recommendations where there are issues to resolve.
“President Weah further mandated the committee to ascertain and ensure that all contracts meet the legal requirements of the laws of Liberia and are fully implemented,” the statement read.
At the same time, Weah wants the committee to ensure that the government and concessionaires are performing in line with their agreements.
Individuals named to serve on the committee also include the dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia, Negbalee Warner, as co-chair; and Weah’s economic advisor, Charles Bright, as a regular member.
Other regular members include Necular Edwards, Bendu E. Clark, Juah Nancy Cassell, Jallah Barbu, and Teplah Reeves.
Meanwhile, the president has directed all government entities to facilitate the smooth operations of the committee.
The World Bank and African Development Bank have identified bogus concession agreements as a challenging factor in reducing poverty and improving the lives of Africans.
At a 2016 High-Level Panel discussion in Washington, as part of the World Bank’s Fragility, Conflict and Violence Forum, the institutions observed that despite being rich in natural resources, the lack of transparency and accountability in many concession agreements and contracts signed by most governments in Africa were leaving people of those countries poor, and without quality education, good healthcare systems and better infrastructure.
Weah’s predecessor, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, received criticisms for hastily entering unfavorable concession agreements that provided the country’s natural resources to foreign investors. Critics said the concessions brought little benefits to citizens.
In 2013, the London-based accounting firm Moore Stephens conducted a Liberian government-sponsored audit of 68 concessions awarded. The report showed that only six of the total contracts, worth US$8bn, were fully compliant with Liberian laws.
Featured photo by Flore de Preneuf/PROFOR