Ellen To Highlight Liberia At G8 Summit…As AFDB Pres. Applauds G8 For Greater Transparency In Taxation

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is expected to make Liberia’s case at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland when she delivers her statement to that body which is composed of the world most industrialized and rich countries.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf departed the country  recently to participate at the invitation of British Prime Minister David Cameron, in a luncheon meeting of the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland – the first time that Liberia has been included among African leaders invited to the Summit of the world’s leading economies.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader will join three other African leaders invited to the Summit: the Chairman of the African Union, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn; the President of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; and President Macky Sall of Senegal.

This year’s G8 Summit, taking place at the Lough Erne Golf Resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, from June 17-18, has as its theme: “Taxes, Trade and Transparency.” President Sirleaf has been invited to speak on transparency and trade.

The gathering of the Group of Eight (G8) will be the 39th meeting in a series which began in 1976. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have hosted Summits at London (1977, 1984, and 1991) and Birmingham (1988) in England, while the 2005 Summit was held at Gleneagles, in Scotland.

The G8 and the Summit are part of a consultation process intended to resolve differences among members. Its core members are the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the European Commission and the European Council.

Discussions at the 39th Summit will include some unresolved issues from previous summits, as well as such topics as food security, nutrition, and sexual violence in armed conflict.

President Sirleaf returns home on Thursday, June 20, and will participate in the “Official Launch to ‘Kick-Start’ Implementation of the National Reconciliation Roadmap for Liberia and the National Dialogue Conference on Peace and Reconciliation,” taking place at the Centennial Pavilion on that day.

During the President’s absence from the country, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Hon. Edward B. McClain, Jr., will serve as Chair of the Cabinet in consultation with Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr.

In a related development, African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Donald Kaberuka on Monday applauded the G8 for its emphasis on the issues around resource mobilization through greater transparency in taxation of Africa’s natural resources.

Speaking as G8 leaders began meeting in the United Kingdom, Kaberuka urged the international community to promote transparency, curb tax evasion and ensure more balanced contracts in the natural resource sectors. He said transactions in the sectors were very opaque.

“It is only in this way that our countries will be able to find the financial resources they need to fund infrastructure and trade corridors, which until now have been very dependent on donor funding,” Kaberuka said.

“The African Development Bank is very much fully behind this agenda. That is why we put in place the African Legal Support Facility, a legal technical assistance facility to help low income countries address a growing problem of litigation by vulture funds as well as a technical advisory facility to help regional member countries negotiate extractive resource contracts and create an appropriate, enabling environment with modern legal and regulatory frameworks for the extractive resource sector.

“The African Legal Support Facility has been instrumental in assisting a number of countries negotiate complex contracts, unbundle others, with the aim of ensuring that the countries get what they deserve, that investors get the return they look for, and that everyone is a winner,” Kaberuka stated.

Kaberuka also acknowledged that internal governance of the natural resource sectors in Africa also need to be improved. He also spoke on the importance of trade as a driver against poverty.

He said Africa wanted to trade its way out of poverty, and a paradigm shift in its relationship with the G8 is necessary at a time when donor funding for the continent had dropped 20 per cent–the first decline in a decade.

“Nations throughout the world, throughout history have prospered through trade and investment. This applies, even to those rich in natural endowments,” Kaberuka said. “Africa, too, seeks to trade her way out of poverty through trade. But Africa must deal with the issue of the cost of doing business, the risks of doing business, and the challenges of small fragmented markets – all of which are extremely high. Some nations are better endowed in natural resources that do help if carefully managed and invested in creating real wealth,” Kaberuka stated.

Kaberuka said the AfDB currently committed almost US $2 billion annually on economic integration, focused on support to the Regional Economic Communities in planning and strategy; focusing investments on trade related infrastructure, transport and optic fibres; trade facilitation and soft infrastructure; electricity power pools; the development of transport corridors; and the management of shared waterways.