ARCELOR MITTAL AGREEMENT: WE HOPE IT WILL BENEFIT LIBERIANS
LIBERIA IS INDEED celebrating a landmark achievement in the historic signing of an updated and revised Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) between the Government and the World’s leading steel giant, Mittal Steel, which unarguably sets new stage for the Company’s operations in Liberia as it is also a phenomenally productive turnaround in the country’s economic development framework. As a country that has come of age, signing such Agreement only portrays the dynamism and vibrancy of the government’s determination to think outside the box in order to give its people the required social and economic arrangements so germane to their well-being.
LET IT BE established that on the fateful day of Friday, September 10, 2021, the government of President George Manneh Weah and the management of Steel Giant, Arcelor Mittal, following months of behind-the-scene heated negotiations, actualized and finalized a landmark agreement that will certainly go a long way in meeting the wishes and aspirations of the people, the direct beneficiaries of such undertaking. The incontrovertible truth is that for so long Liberians suffered wanton neglect- or their wellbeing were not prioritized- in some erstwhile agreements.
PUBLIC OUTCRIES MARRED the initial MDA sought, discussed and finalized in 2005 under the erstwhile National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) which many believed fell short of provisions that usher genuine social and economic vitality for the country and people. In fact, it was regarded as one of several bogus agreements that reportedly didn’t meet every standard of legality and due process; an unfortunate situation that necessitated nullification of said Agreement by the Ellen Johnson Government and eventually ratified months later.
IN SPITE OF the grandeur ratification process, the MDA was still considered flawed as it didn’t take into consideration the well-being of the country and people in key areas such as the status of the rail, social responsibility to the people of the concession areas and many more. Thus, the Weah-led Government which came to power on the promise to change the livelihoods of Liberians in every aspect was left with no other alternative but to call for its review.
JUST AS THE as the Ellen Government did, the Weah Government has succeeded in realizing its desired goal of altering the undesirable enshrinements in the original Agreement – a step so welcoming and rewarding in terms of the overall objective of making the MDA completely unblemished and accommodative. Admittedly, the whooping sum of $800 Million the country stands to benefit as far as the renewed Agreement is concerned, cannot go unnoticed, and this is why the Government must be appreciated for such undertaking which many believe speaks well for its intention in resetting button.
NOW THAT THE Executive Branch has played its part in getting ArcelorMittal recommit itself to fair and unflappable operations, the onus now rest on the National Legislation which has to ratify it. By this, it is strongly desired that the lawmakers, the direct representatives of the people, will do due diligence by ensuring that every T is crossed and I dotted in the would-be ratified Agreement. We understand good things such as direct benefits to the affected counties, employment opportunities (at top managerial levels) for sons and daughters of affected counties are enshrined in the current Agreement. The essence of any agreement between any government and a foreign company is to create opportunities for the country and its people in terms of the accruable economic benefits.
WE THINK LIBERIA has come a long way in missing out on what supposed to be handsome and glorious opportunities to change the ugly conditions that existed for years. Against this backdrop, we urge the government to take every step that addresses the concerns and wellbeing of the affected counties and the entire country. It is wish and hope that the ArcelorMittal Agreement benefits Liberians.