By Mark N. Mengonfia- firstname.lastname@example.org
MONROVIA-It appears like the current Mineral Development Agreement(MDA) between the Liberian government and Arcelor Mittal has come under intense criticism. This time, from a senator of Montserrado County who thinks that the deal should not be ratified until specific things which, AML previously committed itself to are done.
For instance, in the previous agreement, AML should have built a beneficiation plant, but failed to do so. Again, it failed to build the hospital; failed to live up to the number of employees-three thousand. Rather, it only employed 2,000 Liberians.
With this and others, Senator Darous Dilion from the opposition Liberty Party has rejected its ratification in its current state. That it should be ratified if AML shows a its previous work plan which indicated that it lived up to the previous agreement.
The agreement unlike previous one, is facing series of objections. Dilion’s criticism comes in less than a week after a group of people from Bong, Grand Bassa and Nimba counties petitioned their lawmakers last week not to ratify the agreement until AML provides its previous work plan and lived up to its commitment.
Appearing on a local radio station Talk show, OK FM, Senator Dilion said what is before them should not be ratified in its current state or form.
He furthered that there is no need for rush now and that they are going to take their time for the right agreement to be reached that will benefit both the concessioner, the government and ordinary Liberians as well.
According to him, the AML deal should not be ratified in its current form, but all the concerns should be noted before reaching the point of approval by them, the Liberian Legislature.
The Montserrado County lawmaker said the current state of the agreement will not benefit the government and its people and as such, there is a likelihood for it to be equated to the pervious one which did not satisfy many of the lines that were agreed upon many years back.
Referencing the agreement, he said since Liberians never had the skills back then, it was agreed that the expatriates be brought in country to perform some of those roles, but should later be replaced once Liberians get the skills.
He indicated that the refusal by the company to not build the plant is somehow depraving the country of needed revenue generation.
According to him, when AML was asked why they have not been able to live up to the agreements, they informed them of the Ebola crisis.
“There was Ebola but yet they were shipping ore,” he said.
He said if the ores are processed in Liberia, it will be known that Liberia will benefit from other mineral resources separate from the ore. That, he said, AML is benefiting from other mineral resources.
The Liberian Senator indicated that the Liberian government is seeking for the ratification of the recent agreement but was quick to say AML has not achieved their benchmark when it comes to the agreement they reached with the government of Liberia.
Senator Dillon said there is no guarantee that the company will live up to this other agreement.
He said any investment that comes to Liberia that seeks to employ Liberians, he, as a Liberian welcomes it and so he welcomes the AML, but added that the company and the government have their role to play in ensuring that the agreement is a win, win one; meaning all parties should benefit and live by what was agreed upon.
Senator Dillon said while AML is making her profit, the country and its people should benefit as well.
“It is not only the royalty in taxes we want, we want to ensure that they do the right things” the Liberian senator added.
“If you have not built the plant because of Ebola, what will make me think that you will not put it on Corona Virus?” he inquired.
“Housing, media, educational facilities, but they have not achieved again on those grounds that the drop in the price of iron ore on the world market,” he said.
He said at this point, what should be put before AML is to ensure that they comply with the terms and conditions laid down in the agreement.