July 11, 2015
Gurley St., Monrovia
I read your editorial in last Friday’s edition of the Inquirer in which you stated that the burden is on me to prove how much compensation Randolph McClain, CEO, of NOCAL receives. I could not disagree with you more.
NOCAL is a public corporation, supported by taxpayers’ money. It is not a private institution. Therefore, information about the compensation of its management should be public knowledge. On December 9, 2014 I wrote Mr. McClain requesting, amongst other things, that he disclose his salary and benefits and those of other senior managers of NOCAL. He refused. A copy of my letter is attached. You may publish it.
He cannot hide behind some nebulous excuse such as “administrative reasons” for not disclosing information that the public has a right to have. When I was at LPRC, every 3 months I used to gather the employees in a “meeting under the tree”, where I would pull out a blackboard and provide for them an abbreviated income statement and balance sheet showing them how much money we earned, what our expenses, how much profit we had made for the period and how much money we had in the bank.
I used also to publish, in local newspapers, the quarterly results of LPRC—-income statement and balance sheet. Why? Because, even though no-one ever requested it, I felt that the public had a right to have that kind of information. As a professional accountant, I have worked in Liberia, The United States of America and Great Britain. Public companies in the Western world are required by law to publish their financial statements. That was the environment in which I grew up professionally. And so, that is what I practised back here in Liberia.
Final point: the questions I asked in my letter to Mr. McClain are questions which you journalists, who are supposed to be watchdogs for the public, should be also asking. I never implied that Mr. McClain’s salary was the only or even the proximate reason for NOCAL’s financial woes. It is just one ingredient. Let’s look at the compensation issue more broadly. Back in 2006/2007 NOCAL had about 25 people on its payroll. Its wage bill was about $30,000 per month or $360,000 per year, an average of $1,000 per person per month. I know because as LPRC managing director I once loaned them $30,000 to pay their payroll.
Today, NOCAL has 160 people on its payroll and their salaries and benefits amount to a whopping $7.5 million per year or more than $600,000 per month, almost $4,000 per person per month. NOCAL is not producing one liter of oil. It is an administrative unit shuffling paper. What is the justification for such a large workforce and wage bill?
But that’s not all. They are spending $3.2 million a year on travel. Travelling where and doing what, may I ask? And the board of directors has a spending budget of $1.4 million a year. Huh? To do what? Are they feasting on pheasant and imbibing prodigious amounts of Chateau Laffite?
NOCAL is spending about $25 million a year, $20 million more than it should be spending in my estimation. At $200 per month ($2,400 per year), $20 million could pay the salaries of about 8,000 elementary school teachers in our public school system. Put another way, it could pay the salaries of teachers in about 1,000 public schools. That is the opportunity cost of all that waste that is going on at NOCAL. President Sirleaf says the education system is a mess? One of the solutions might be to divert all that wasteful spending way from NOCAL and into pay for our public school teachers.
Harry A. Greaves, Jr.
Harry Greaves’ Letter To NOCAL Boss Since December 2014
December 9, 2014
Dr. Randolph McClain
National Oil Company of Liberia
Dear Dr. McClain,
Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I would like you to kindly furnish me the following information:
- The names of the Liberian companies that participated in the recent Liberia Basin Bid Round, along with the names of their beneficial shareholders and their respective shareholdings in those companies.
- The amounts bidded as signature bonus by each company that participated in the bid round and the associated blocks that they bidded for.
- For the fiscal years ended June 30, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, the amounts expended by the board of directors on each capital project that was allocated as a board project in each of those years, a brief description of each project and the beneficiaries of those projects.
- The fees and other expenses paid to each board member for each of the fiscal years referred to in 3) above.
- The salary and benefits paid to the President, Chief Operating Officer, vice presidents and department heads of the corporation for each of the fiscal years referred to in 3) above.
- An organization chart showing the management structure of the corporation, along with the names of its officers and department heads, including the head count of each department, for each of the fiscal years referred to in 3) above.
Harry A. Greaves, Jr.
cc: Seward Cooper, Chairman of the board of directors