Monday, June 8, 2009

DISCREPANCY

LEITI Reports “Discrepancy”

By Bill E. Diggs

The level of discrepancies experienced in the Liberian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) first report has prompted the need for a revise in the revenue reporting template.
LEITI in its 2007/2008 fiscal year report indicated some discrepancy among the reporting templates submitted by various oil, mining, forestry companies as well as the Government Ministry Agencies (GMA).
The discrepancies were based on the delinquency of 24 out of the 54 companies operating within the various sectors of revenue generation in Liberia to file in their yearly report.
Out of the 30 companies which submitted their reports, 20 reports had stipulated figures that did not correspond with the government agencies’ report.
Hence, LEITI report indicated that the combine total of US$ 29,454,662 was paid by the 30 companies as taxes, royalties; land/surface rental, administrative fees, and other communities/county contributions and donations made, but the revenue data submitted by the four Government Ministry Agencies approved of 29,447,339 thus yielding at least US$7,323 net aggregate discrepancy.
On Friday, June 5, 2009, LEITI held a one day workshop to discuss the revised reporting template that will be used to disclose all payments made to and revenue received by the Government over the reporting period.
Speaking during the opening session at the workshop, Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner said that the essence of EITI reports is based on the observation that countries rich with natural resources become poorer.
He further said that revising the reporting template will help avoid discrepancy among reports submitted to LEITI by the companies and Government Ministry Agencies as well.
Com. Oliver N. Roger, who presided over the business section at the workshop, attributed the discrepancy to the inclusion of taxes that was paid before and after the reporting period.
Besides, he said that the discrepancy could be attributed to payment of funds that did not enter the government revenue’s stream.
According to LEITI February 9th report, discrepancies that were not material in relation to the total aggregated receipts and payments reported remained unresolved on number of companies, mainly because difficulties were encountered in obtaining supporting data, or obtaining it on timely basis.
LEITI has worked to resolve all reported discrepancy contained in its first report by pass April 24, 2009 and is working to resolved all unresolved discrepancy and to avoid further discrepancy in the 2008/2009 fiscal year report.
However, of the 20 reported discrepancies, 14 were resolved leaving out six among which an alleged US$104,288 withholding income tax reported by Amlib was inclusive, but the government categorically denied receiving such payment.
At the end of the workshop, LEITI listed some items of the reporting template which reporting stakeholders identified as the same field under different names. Such items included business registration and corporate registration fees.
Its is not certain of what punitive action that would be taking against companies that failed to file in their reports n companies that did not turn up to resolved their discrepancies.
Hence, Cllr. Warner called on the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME), and National Oil Company of Liberia to put down a control to deal with delinquent companies.
He urged that LEITI’s reports be use as tool not to issue grants of operation to these delinquent companies.

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