Letter to editor

On the petroleum bill in Sierra Leone

14 July 2011 at 00:37 | 1043 views

By Jesmed Suma, USA.

I personally support the position that acquisitions of interest in the
petroleum sector must be transparent and must be done by public tender.
Any company with long term interest in Sierra Leone and that wishes to
invest millions of dollars in exploring petroleum and other mineral
resources without real and meaningful benefit to the people of Sierra
Leone would be taking a serious risk.

I would advie that they refuse to do business with our Govt. in
secrecy at the expense of the people of Sierra Leone. By refusing to
entertain debate and public scrutiny of the proposed petroleum
exploration bill begs the question "What is it that they are hiding
from the people of SL" ?

If we had the following law in SL no multinational company would ever
want to take the risk to engage in corrupt practices such as this seems
to indicate. Here is my recommendation to avoid such secrecy in the

Any agreement or contract including mineral resource extraction
agreement awarded by the GOSL, that is over half a million dollars
($500,000.00), and all multinational agreements, for which theGOSL will
be liable to offer value either in the form of concessions, mineral
resources exploratory rights and or make financial payment, must be
free from bribery,coercion, or influence and must be vetted by a
subcommittee in the Legislative Branch.

Any payment or offer of anything of value to any Govt.official or
his/her representative/agent with discretionary authority
under circumstances that might induce the Government official to misuse
his/her position, to assist the company to obtain, maintain, or retain
business must be declared bribery. If within 11 years of the approval and
signing of such an agreement, evidence emerges that the company bribed, or
used any form of influence, other than merit, the GOSL reserves the
right to declare the contract null and void. The GOSL will be free from
honoring any obligation under the agreement, and reserves the right to
sue the contractor who may have been involved in such a tainted
agreement or contract.

If theGovt. fails to assume the responsibility to take legal action on
behalf of the people of SL, any other group of citizens,havingclear

evidence of such breach, reserves the right to publicly show proof of

their evidence in acourt of law and if it so pleases,the court may

require the accused company to respond .

Let’s assume a particular Govt. receives a bribe to award a mining
agreement and refuses to take action to enforce the above laws. Since
the statute of limitation extends beyond two terms, that creates the risk for
the company to be sued by the opposition if the opposition happens to
head the Govt and if they have evidence to the effect. No company would
want to risk losing 100s of millions of dollars in such circumstances.