Last update: 05-Dec-2013 1:25 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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T&T and Liberia connect on youth projects
According to 16-year-old Liberian student Angel Yalartai, the TTEITI and the LEITI both have great youth programmes. And Yalartai should know since she was able to visit T&T for two-weeks thanks to an exchange programme between both organisations. The T&T Extractive Industries Transparency Institute (TTEITI) and the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Institute (LEITI) are part of a larger global EITI initiative established to monitor and ensure governments and companies abide by fair practice when dealing with natural resources such as oil, gas and mining products. The institute was founded in 2002 and is now operational in 37 countries.
Yalartai learned about the LEITI through her school’s e-Club in Monrovia. After participating in club activities, Yalartai was chosen to come T&T from her winning performance at an LEITI debate. At the debate, Yalartai argued that the LEITI should become a part of the contract-award process in Liberia. Yalartai has some passionate views about how things should work in her country. “In Liberia, we’ve had several (foreign) companies come and make false promises, get our resources and leave. So we felt that LEITI should not only get involved after the contracts are awarded, but they should be in the process to know which companies are going to do what and to vet the companies,” she said during an interview at the TTEITI offices in Port-of-Spain.
Liberia is a country just one decade out of a brutal civil war and the work to re-build the economy is tough. Yalartai is too young to remember any of the fighting, but she does know the work to rebuild will take more than investments and smart spending. “Peace building is important because Liberia has gone through a lot, especially when it comes to civil wars. Even though we’ve been stable for a while, there’s still hatred among certain people and there’s still certain issues that have to be addressed. It’s good that we have some level of transparency in our country right now but after all those years it might be hard to really get people to understand that we’re one and we should all act as one,” she said.
“After the war we’ve had more international companies come and we’re seeing more development and there are certain requirements in some contracts to develop areas in the country. So we’re seeing more employment because we have to have a certain number of locals involved with the projects. It’s not 100 per cent since the war ended but there’s been a lot of improvements.” Even as the daughter of Liberia’s minister of labour, Yalartai said she was grateful for the opportunity to travel since not many students in Liberia can do so. While in T&T, Yalartai got to tour the National Gas Company’s Point Lisas Industrial Estate, sit-in on meetings with TTEITI representatives and British Petroleum and participate in activities hosted by the TTEITI’s Youth Arm such as the Youth Championships Training Programme. “I learned some things I can take back to Liberia to help our youth. Basically one of the major things that I got from the Youth Champion Training was that we don’t have to limit the exposure to the EITI. It doesn’t only have to be an high school thing or you don’t have to employed to know what is going on in your country. We can definitely go into communities and get them interested in what’s happening,” she said.
According to Mark Regis, TTEITI secretariat head, the Youth Arm has the potential to make the TTEITI a long-lasting and fruitful initiative. “What we’re doing in Trinidad and Liberia is unique. It’s unique from the perspective that it’s really targeting the revenues and how they are spent and how they are saved and making sure that the next generation has as good or a better living standard than we do now,” he said.
More about the EITI
The EITI is a global initiative with the objective of fostering transparency and accountability by companies and governments involved in extractive industries by disclosing to citizens the total payments made by companies to government independently reconciled with the government’s declared receipts. The EITI was announced at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002 and in 2003 the first EITI Plenary Conference was held in London. In June, the T&T government, local companies and civil society representatives publicly signed a Stakeholders’ Memorandum of Understanding on EITI implementation in T&T.
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