Office of the President. July 7, 2021
Senator Albert Chea
Senate Pro Tempore
Republic of Liberia
Ref: Restore Liberians 5% Equity Rights in the Petroleum Law
Dear Mr. Senate Pro Tempore:
On October 9, 2019, President George M. Weah signed an amendment to Liberia’s 2014 petroleum law. President Weah’s action follows an amendment secretly made- without any public hearing – by the Liberian Senate. Among other detrimental changes, the amendment- specifically section 36- took from ALL Liberians a 5% citizens’ equity right – whose expected dividend was required to be deposited into a Citizens Fund for the benefit of every Liberian. The amendment subsequently transferred the right to the 5% equity to only Liberians with oil & gas businesses and deleted all the following explicit provisions regarding Citizens Fund: The provision on who has the authority to and how the 5% equity for the Citizens Fund would be requested (36.2), the provision that requires 5% equity to be a carried equity since Liberia may not have resources to invest on behalf of Liberians (36.3), the provision regarding the management of the Citizens’ Fund, (36.5 & 36.6), and the provision on a timeline for the passage of an act to implement the Citizens’ Participation Fund (36.7).
Before the Senate amended the law, section 36 mandated a 5% equity in every petroleum agreement for the benefit of a Citizens’ Fund and required profit from said equity to be deposited into a Citizens’ Fund for the benefit of ALL Liberians. The law further required an international trust company to manage the Citizens Fund and for money in the fund to flow to every Liberian- especially the most vulnerable- via mechanism that would be agreed in a citizen’s participation fund law. Sadly, the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA), relying on the dangerous amendment, has selected nine (9) Liberian owned Companies- instead of establishing the Citizens Fund – to receive 5% equity each in offshore oil concessions the government is expected to sign.
Mr. Pro-tempore, the Economic Freedom Fighter of Liberia (EFFL) – calls on the Liberian Senate – through your office – to immediately recall the 2019 Amended Petroleum E&P Law and restore the birth right of ALL Liberians to the 5% equity through the Citizens Fund as they demanded during Liberia’s Nation-wide Oil Consultation and as enshrined in section 36 of the 2014 Oil Law. The amended version of section 36 of the oil law, which is being used a reliance to take oil wealth from ALL Liberians and give to a few Liberians blatantly violates Article 7 of Liberia’s Constitution which states: “The Republic shall, consistent with the principles of individual freedom and social justice enshrined in this Constitution, manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia in such manner as shall ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under conditions of equality as to advance the general welfare of the Liberian people and the economic development of Liberia.”
Besides the constitutional violation, the action of the Senate undermines the fundamental principles of economic freedom for ALL. The action will concentrate economic wealth in the hands of few politically connected Liberians at the disadvantage of over 4million Liberians and by that will make the rich richer and the poor poorer! As a political movement formed on the ideological principle of economic freedom for all, we see this action as a provocation and the greatest economic crime against our people. Your action is a test to the resolve of the EFF in its non-compromising quest to ensure Economic Freedom for ALL and we will respond disproportionately high if the Liberian Senate does not act promptly to restore our people’s 5% birth right to petroleum contracts.
Mr. Pro-Tempore, the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) will expect a timely response to this communication – preferably seeking an audience with our team of natural resource experts so together with the Liberian Senate – we can lay out a pathway to recalling the 2019 Amended Petroleum E&P Law, restoring Liberians 5% birth rights in petroleum contracts, and devising ways- in accordance with section 14.3 of the petroleum law- on how Liberian businesses can benefit from the oil sector without taking the 5% from ALL Liberians.
Cde. Leader Emmanuel Gonquoi
Motto: “Owning Liberia Together”
Note: This communication was also served to the House Speaker, Bphoal Chambers.