Liberia’s journey towards achieving commercial transparency and tackling illicit financial flows presents a multitude of opportunities, some of which were identified by the LEITI MSG and aptly captured in the BO roadmap published in 2016. The roadmap identified gaps in BO implementation and provided robust recommendations for advancing BOT reforms that covered establishing a BO definition, assessing and finalising the data fields necessary for BO disclosure, and establishing mechanisms for data collection and verification. While recommendations relating to establishing a BO definition have been implemented through the recent amendment to the Associations Law, other recommendations relating to creating a regulatory framework and systems for collecting, publishing and verifying BO data are yet to be implemented.
Liberia is at an early stage of implementing BO reforms, there is a lot of room for Liberia to learn from neighbouring countries with relatively similar socio-economic and political climates such as Ghana and Zambia, and larger countries in the region such as Nigeria, in the development of an effective BO regime. In terms of a legislative framework for BO reforms, although there are ample opportunities for the legislative framework to be strengthened, the Associations Law and Constitution and Freedom of Information Act work in concert to create an enabling environment for BO reforms to thrive. Finally, the recommendations suggested in the BO roadmap and the progress made by the LPRA in publishing the DUBOR is exemplary of the positive approach taken to complex concerns such as data protection and public access (see the analysis relating to principle 9).
From our consultation sessions with stakeholders, it is evident that the government agencies are committed to working collaboratively on BO reforms. For instance, there was a strong commitment to adopt and institutionalise the planned BO declaration forms and regulations to be established by the LBR. The agencies are also committed to exchanging information to facilitate the verification of BO data. This intergovernmental synergy will undoubtedly facilitate the advancement of BO implementation in Liberia.
The general consensus found among the key stakeholders and actors (LBR, LRA, FIU, LPRA and LEITI), from desktop research and from Open Ownership’s engagement in-country is that the BO register will be hosted by the LBR. The LBR is responsible for the “coordination and implementation of the processes of enterprise formalisation in Liberia”, and one of its key functions is the collation of comprehensive data at the point of registration and during annual filings made by companies. This places the LBR in a position to simply expand its data requirements to include BO information, and provide a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework for BO disclosure which will guide other sector regulators and key implementers to follow their best practice over the coming years.