The Liberian Senate Committee on Concession and Investment held a public hearing on Monday to discuss the proposed amendment of the Bea Mountain concession. The concession is set to expire in three years, and the company is seeking an extension of its operations in Liberia.
Under the new agreement, the company intends to make an additional investment of five hundred twenty million United States dollars. However, to proceed with this investment, they require an amended contract due to the three years remaining on the existing Mineral Development Agreement.
Furthermore, the new agreement outlines the securing of an additional four thousand Liberians and an increase in the number of Liberians in senior managerial positions. In the current amendment, the company has proposed additional areas for exploration.
Mohammed Darami, Liberia Representative to Mano River Youth Parliament who was one of those who stood strong to see a review of Bea Mountain’s Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) promised never to protest against the Company since the reason he protested has been achieved.
Speaking in Tahn, Gola Konneh District in Grand Cape Mount County when Senator Simion Taylor took the Bea Mountain MDA for citizens’ input in the new law, Mr. Darami said he has been concerned about what goes to the community as their benefits for using their land and extracting the resources.
He raised concerns if the document was carried for citizens of the county to have their input and if their views will be placed in the final document.
After making those points, he said, “Today, the young people of Cape Mount this day should be the last day of protest. The last day you have ever protested against Bea Mountain,” Darami told the members of the Liberian Senate.
He continued, “From this day, I can assure you people of Cape Mount that, I Mohammed Darime will not witness any protest again for Bea Mountain.”
According to him, he and others were into protestation because the agreement was not revisited and since the process is on, he sees no reason to go on with protest.
Senator Taylor was praised by Chiefs and Elders of Grand Cape Mount County for the courage to seek their views in the MDA process.
Taylor during the Town Hall meeting, told citizens that they stand to benefit more from the second agreement when ratified. He said the county will get additional benefits including 850, 000.00 United States Dollars, US$2.00 land rental fees, 10% undiluted royalty among others.
Although the citizens were informed about the 850, 000.00 as their benefit but they told the lawmaker to lobby for said amount to be increased to 1 million United States Dollars per year.
The Cape Mount Senator said, “What came out from this meeting today, the people are saying that the Social Development Fund of US$250, 000.00 should be raised up to 1million dollars. I think it is a hard negotiation, I think we need to do in the interest of our people,” he said.
The committee invited key figures, including Minister of Justice Frank Musa-Dan, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, Labor Minister Charles Gibson, Mines and Energy Minister Gersler Murray, and the Chairman of the National Investment Commission, Molewuleh Gray, to provide reasons why the Senate should either approve or amend the concession agreement.
Minister Murray highlighted that the company has been operating in the country since 2013, with a current production area spanning 537 square kilometers. He argued that given the expected job creation and financial benefits, there is a strong economic justification for amending this agreement.
The Liberian Senate recently commenced a two-week special session to deliberate on matters of national concern. This special session is in accordance with Article 32(b) of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, which empowers the President to extend a regular session or call a special session to address matters of national emergency and concern.
During the special session, President Pro-Tempore Albert T. Chie outlined several unresolved issues that will be addressed. These include the continuation of the debate on the amended Public Health Law, election-related matters, attracting public sector investment, and the confirmation process for nominated Commissioners of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, among others.
Pro-tempore Chie emphasized that the debate on the amended Public Health Law covers a range of contemporary health care issues in Liberian society. These include lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as bio-security, bio-safety, occupational health, provisions for infants and young children, traditional alternative medicines, emergency treatment, and more.
Additionally, Pro-Temp Chie expressed concerns about interference in the legislative process and urged a transparent and informed discussion on the proposed new Public Health Law.
The National Elections Commission will also be called upon to provide information about its readiness for the Legislative and Presidential Elections scheduled for October 10, 2023, with a focus on election security.
Other items on the agenda include the ratification of an amended Mineral Development Agreement, the continuation of the confirmation process for nominated Commissioners of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, and a briefing from the Ministry of Public Works regarding the mandate to improve the two primary south-eastern road corridors within 30 days, as well as the passage of the free tuition Act, among other issues.