In response to criticism from ex-Public Works Minister Samuel Koffi Woods, blaming President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the current financial crisis at the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL, the President has accepted responsibility, but says she “suspects” that the former minister “will be equally responsible” for problems at the Ministry under his watch then.
Mr. Woods is also opposed to severance pay to outgoing NOCAL officials, who have been relinquished of their posts, including President and CEO, Dr. Randolph McClain. “I suspect that former Minister Woods will be equally responsible for things that happened [Under] his watch when it comes to the problems we had at Public Works. So the head person takes responsibility even though they may not be directly responsible,” President Sirleaf responded Sunday, 30 August upon arrival at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County from Japan.
The President said though NOCAL had “a very able Board of Directors, a very able senior management” whom she left to make decisions in managing the company, she however takes responsibility as Head of State.
“But as head of the country anything that doesn’t work the way we want, I ultimately will be responsible,” she said, adding that the head person takes responsibility even though they may not be directly responsible.
In an attempt to have all state-owned enterprises function right, President Sirleaf says she has all information about their salaries and benefits, which are being reviewed in terms of ensuring that those boards are functioning, while also ensuring “reduction in cost” so that they don’t face such problems anymore.
In order to achieve this, the President says she will now pay much more attention on what’s happening with the public corporations and state-owned enterprises. According to her, NOCAL just has to do what it is doing now – the reform program that she says is formulated by the company itself, particularly given that globally oil prices are down and situations have changed in the oil sector because large companies were giving up their oil bids.
She however admitted NOCAL was “just too late in doing this,” but maintained that the reform has to be done and after that, the company will straighten itself. President Sirleaf had just returned to Liberia from Japan where she addressed the women empowerment conference upon invitation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during which both leaders held bilateral meetings.
During her stay in Japan, she says they made field visitation as well as with Japan’s development cooperation agency – JICA. President Sirleaf said the mean thing first is to get the Japanese companies back to Liberia to be able to complete work here.
“We talked with them about other things they can do in the …. road sector,” she said Sunday after landing at RIA via Kenya Airways. By Winston W. Parley - Editing by Jonathan Browne