MONROVIA-It appears that the speaker of the National Legislature is not wasting any time exercising ‘his power’ which he thinks is in the interest of the country. Even if it means disclosing important state information which, the president needs to make, is released by him, he will not hesitate.

So, in recent times, Dr. Bohfal Chambers has decided to do just that. So, last week, it was a shock to many people, especially from the executive branch that he told the nation bout plans to review all concession agreements entered into by this government and previous governments.
The announcement came a few weeks after the abrupt return of ArcelorMittal’s third amended agreement to the Executive.
The Speaker’s announcement has sparked intense debates among street bureaucrats and the Liberian public, many of whom say that he was running too far.

But his office staff debunked this and said he was in the right position to make such a statement. Mr. George Watkins defended his boss and went further to say, he is the speaker and can speak in the interest of the country, especially where such issues have to go to the legislature.

Many are questioning his knowledge of the separation of power and the timing of the announcement, particularly, weeks after he presided over a controversial one-item agenda in an Extraordinary Executive Session to vote in the Lower House to return the ArcelorMittal deal the government sources have confirmed that it took nearly two years to negotiate.

Historically, it has been the prerogative of the Executive Branch of government, now headed by President George Weah, to lead and facilitate discussion on negotiations with concessionaires and investments, while the Legislature’s role was to affix the final seal of approval.
It comes at a time when the Concession Review Committee was set up by the president a few years ago which was headed by the late Cllr. David A.B. Jallah has not said anything about that. But some members of the committee confided in this paper that Speaker Chambers was jumping too fast.

“I think he is trying to do the work of the Executive. If he says such a thing, what will be our work? He needs to wait so we can carry out our work and make recommendations for the Executive to announce it. What if we look at the concessions and we do not see any issue with some of them?” the person who declined to be named said.
But Speaker Chambers affirmed the triangular system of government while discussing what he described as the “teacup and the saucer.” Apparently referring to the Executive, the Speaker said they missed “somethings” and that Legislators were acting in good faith.
Some pundits have said that the Speaker was again in error when he referred to the so-called disputed area, telling the Liberian people that SOLWAY was given the portion in 2011 by the Ellen Johnson Administration. There is no evidence to support the Speaker’s assertion that Patrick Sendolo gave an exploration license to SOLWAY.
Sources at the Ministry of Mines told this reporter that SOLWAY gained eminence when the Roosevelt Jayjay was Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy, and Hon. Emmanuel Sherman served as Assistant Minister for Exploration & Research. It is widely speculated in the Ministry of Mines that Minister Jayjay’s handling of the SOLWAY exploration interest led to President Sirleaf firing him on November 25, 2010.
Even more concerning is the apparent silence of the Executive since the Speaker’s announcement. Albert Paye, a resident of Ganta who listened to the interview, in a Facebook post said that beyond the crossing the constitutional and legal parameters, the optics of such a statement send the wrong signal to potential investors as to the investment climate of the country.
It may be recalled that the aftermath of returning ArcelorMittal’s Third Amendment was marred by harsh public criticisms of the lower House for rejecting almost 3000 new jobs, US$75 million in annual revenue, and a host of other benefits to the struggling people of Liberia. It was shocking and raises lots of questions as to what will cause the fifth poorest country in the world to reject an Agreement that received public acclimations from Liberia’s major development partners including the United States and the European Union.
Further criticism was on the long-term job insecurity imposed on hundreds of Liberians currently employed by the Company. Ratifying the AML deal would have sealed additional twenty-five years of job security for those about 2500 Liberians. Considering that Liberia’s average household is between 5-7 (according to LISGIS’ Demographic and Health Survey 2019-2020), more than 12,000 Liberia are now put at risk of livelihood support.
The Speaker went to great lengths in an attempt to dispel the perception that the announcement of review is targeted at Arcelormittal, but had to generalize the extent of the renegotiation to cover up, and so that it does not appear that Liberia’s largest taxpayer and largest investor – Arcelormittal is not being harassed and bullied.
He said several other concessions will be “looked at” and named MOPP, Golden Verolum, BEA Mountain, and Firestone as being among those to be called. Like Paye, many other Liberians have reminded the legislature that enforcement of contracts is central to investment determinants, and countries that summarily announce renegotiation of concessionaires’ contracts are bound to suffer investment winter or investment snubs.


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