-Senators Bemoan Lack of Finance
By Reuben Sei Waylaun
Some senators of the Liberian senate are suggesting that the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) shouldn’t exist until enough funding is made available to run the nation’s premier oil company.
NOCAL was established in April 2000, by the National Legislature for the purpose of holding all of the rights, titles and interests of the Republic of Liberia in the deposits and reserves of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons within the territorial limits of the Republic of Liberia, whether potential, proven, or actual, with the aim of facilitating the development of the oil and gas industry in the country.
NOCAL as it is called used to be most lucrative name of public corporations on the lips of many Liberians and foreign nationals between 2010 and 2014 due to its huge financial muscles in post conflict Liberia.
The reported discovery of oil on the shores of Liberia was seen as a promising sign of better things to come for the Liberian people, who are stuck at the bottom of the pole in corruption.
However, following the departure of the then Board chairman of the company, Robert Sirleaf, son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, there have been huge public insinuations about rampant corruption and lack of accountability at the company.
As of 2015, Liberians were devastated over the enormous bureaucracy at NOCAL, as some would say has gone bankrupt, due to alleged unbelievably high salaries and rampant corruption.
What The Senators Say?
Meanwhile, at a confirmation hearing of the Director General of the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA) Wednesday, by the senate committee on Land, Mines, Energy and Natural resource, the senators in attendance, Cllr. Varney Sherman, Morris Saytumah, Dallas Gueh, Edward Dagoseh among others suggested that the company shouldn’t exist until the needed resources are available to run the institution.
The LPRA is now by law a regulatory body of the oil sector and the Director General operates on a two-year tenure.
According to the Director General-designate Edward R. A. Smith, he has all the technical knowledge to run that alleged insolvent company, but needs the support of the senators and other relevant authorities through the allocation of budget until the company can rejuvenate to what it supposed to be.
Smith who said he spent five consecutive years at the company said he left before the insolvency that befell the company, but defended that his hands are clean in term of corruption throughout his professional life, and boasted that he is best suited to head the LPRA as its Director General when confirmed by the Liberian senate.
However, Senator Varney Sherman reminded the Director General-designate that NOCAL is completely broke and since there is no money, the institution shouldn’t exist.
“We need to look for money until that institution can come back because you are a young man and we don’t want you to suffer,” Sherman speaks in a more paternal manner.
For Senator Morris Saytumah, who was also spoke in a paternal manner said there is a need for the DG-designate to give them financial projection or three years action project if he must be confirmed by the Liberian Senate.
At the same time, Senator Conmany Wesseh reminded the appointing authority, the office of the President that despite the insolvency facing the company and the country, they continue to employ people into flashy positions and even giving them tenure positions.
However, after cross examining the witness, the senators resolved to continue with the scrutiny in committee room.