EDITORIAL: Has GoL dumped its largest Investor and Taxpayer-Arcelor Mittal?

The current fate of ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) seems to be taking a pathetic, but dramatic center stage,  saddled with grave concerns and sometimes stalling of the third amendment to ratifying of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), is showing mixed signals.

Quite frankly, when a would-be responsible government jumps from the curve without firstly and carefully looking thoroughly at both ends before acting and rather allowing itself to be consumed by the culture of confidence crisis at the determent of mutual trust, respect, sincerity, and honesty; and in gross violation of internationally best acceptable practice; obviously, such uncouth confidence-wrecking concept, is indeed attended by some consequences of legality, based on vested interest and investment in win-win cooperation.

When a government of trust and protector of legitimate agreement and productively tested with the progressively proven results, overwhelmingly presents itself to be eclipsed by a wanton pressure that stabs and bleeds authentic understanding, based on ‘cheery-picking’ to appease a specific sector by equally undermining the established foreign investment by bamboozling through political maneuverings,  does not send any good signal outside, especially to other potential investors.

It is becoming clear like in the current saga of AML and Solway/HPX; is badly troubling and deeply, but sadly worrisome.

In the same vein, with a statement published in the daily FrontPageAfrica Newspaper attributed to President George M. Weah from Nimba, where the government ended a four-day cabinet retreat; that  HPX- Guinean Mining Company and partner of Solway, in an uphill fray with AML for the utilization of the rail and the Port of Buchanan, currently under the administration of AML; that one of the top managers is his (Weah’s) buddy, that they once lived together in the same house, and that Solway wins his attention. That, however, the process of the third amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) remains in the book, is also quizzical to say the least. He made it clear that he was close to the owner of Solway and called upon the management to sit with AML and discuss.

Could this statement from the President of Liberia be the tipping point in the AML-Solway’s MDA impasse, thereby observers are now believing it could be the straw destined to break the camel’s back, and by extension, the final nail to the third MDA’s amendment coffin’s top regarding AML’s legitimate quest?

Let is known that AML, according to the government, is its current largest investment and the largest taxpayer for now. Bearing this in mind, one would think that   AML would be treated in a way that would benefit all parties.  Remember when most of these companies were nowhere around,  AML took the bold step to enter the Liberian market; which perhaps paved the way for other companies to follow.

But the way things are proceeding, pundits view such comments attributed to President Weah in a ‘YES-MAN’-driven society like Liberia, where sycophancy and leader-worship could not be undone; especially when the third amendment exercise has been stalled at the Legislature amidst claim and denial by the Speaker, Dr. Bhofal Chambers that his signature was forged on a receipt from HPX amounting to US$500,000; could also now be glaring that either AML is being dumped or double-crossed on the altar of friendship.

Accordingly, the European Union’s (EU) Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse as one of Liberia’s partners from the international community scored AML’s over one billion United States Dollar investment as praiseworthy and encouraged the government to ratify the third MDA for the company to carry out its many progressive developments in the interest of the state and people, and avoid the un-necessary bottleneck.

Also, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah has described AML’s US$800 million agreement as a good deal that will help the government to transform the energy sector. Tweah added that the government’s agreement with AML is a “significant improvement to an existing contract” that will enable the company to contribute to the shared cost of energy

It is critical, according to him for the Legislature to pass the agreement so that AML can expand its mining operations by building a massive processing plant in Nimba which will require an enormous power supply from the Corte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (CLSG) line and help government shoulder energy cost

He warned that for the next nine (9) years, no other company will be able to use Buchanan-Yekepa railway if the legislature fails to pass the AML MDA before it; arguing that the agreement was well negotiated by some of the best experts in the sector.

Again, former Montserrado County Senatorial Candidate Shiekh Al Moustapha Kayateh cautioned President George M. Weah and his officials against “mishandling the ArcelorMittal agreement. He told the system that the Liberian people are not interested in vain projects, but are concerned about a major improvement in the economic activities that can put food on the tables.

Urging the President and his officials to see the over US$ 1 billion AML agreement as an opportunity to advance economic development and alleviate the Liberian people from abject poverty, it could also encourage other international partners to come over, because when they talk about investment in Liberia, AML is the only company that other foreign investors will contact, and they will tell them the kind of government they are about to deal with.

If you are wise, be advised.



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