By: Hoe’u Kabouto
MONROVIA-From the strike of any imagination, the manner, form, style, and most fashion employed by the government’s total reluctance in marching legitimacy with a serious commitment to ratifying ArcelorMittal Liberia’s third Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) is now sending discouraging mixed signals to the wider society in particular and the whole world in general.
With this intolerable and excessive delay on the part of the Liberian Government under the command and control of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change in the embodiment of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), to sign the ratification of AML’s MDA, it is becoming worrisome.
From all indications, there have been discussions on some areas of concern; especially the control of the railway ownership and right-to-use point.
This ratification will finally unlock the flow of many opportunities that will enhance several projects aimed at impacting specifically the growth and development of the people and state including a reliable and dependable win-win partnership between government and AML. But to move forward in this is proving too worrisome by the day; despite all that AML is sincerely undertaking in the county, coupled with working side by side with the government in moving forward some most needed operations cardinal to the interest of the people who are practically grounded on bended knees based on the long yearning for the goodies embedded in the locked ratification of the AML’s MDA.
The people, with broken hearts, despair, and acute disappointment enshrined in the adopted posture of consistent and persistent delaying in ratifying AML’s MDA as a very serious bread and butter matter, the people to administer the affairs of the state including its many rich natural and mineral resources is exclusively obligated to do what they are pleased with which there is a return. This will bring them relief, joy, peace, and happiness and redeem them from the state of poverty to prosperity without a second thought or seeking their personal fame, or achievements.
To this end, the people see the game the government is quietly playing by reluctantly delaying the ratification of the third AML’s MDA, in spite of so many credible voices including partners from the international community, prominent stakeholders as well as citizens being added to encourage the government to work for the people and do exactly their duties instead of bullying them and disregarding their quest.
Knowing that 2023 is a year of defining moments in the country and above all else, it is elections year in which all elected public servants desirous of renewing their mandates from the people must clearly answer if they ever listen to the people and whether their (people’s) will be honored and executed by those they employed.
While they are appealing to the government to do the right thing as they have proposed an avoid losing their precious head or a piece of ill0nourished tail; the unfolding trend of events is presenting; it portrays a troubling reflection of the government’s double-standing on AML’s Third MDA Ratification scheme and is cautioning the government to be-beware and very careful. …….
Even the mighty and most controversial Minister of Finance, Mr. 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 Lone, 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 the 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.
Minister Tweah noted that “AML has exclusive right over the rail in the current agreement, and for the next nine years, no one else will be able to use it”. However, there. Have been some changes in dealing with the situation.
What is becoming embarrassing for the government now is its commitment to HPX, the other mining company which wants to use the railroad to ship its ore to Buchanan. As one geologist said: “Liberia is in a serious dilemma. We have taken from the two entities at different times and it is trying to chock us. But we will get out of it.”
Finance Minister Tweah continued; “for the government to bring anyone else to use the rail according to the agreement, AML has to agree. That’s in the law.” He cautioned that Liberia must handle the new AML agreement with care and if the legislators refuse to pass the amended Agreement which is before them, the company could ask for an extension after tits remaining years.
Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) At the same time a veteran mining industrialist, Mr. Moses Vomegaye who worked for the LAMCO J. V. Company for decades noted that this government should be very thankful to God for having a Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) willing and prepared to stick and stay in the country to cooperatively work with it and its people in improving a lots-issues-and interest-based through a genuine partnership on a win-win platform.
Mr. Vomegaye narrated that the government for almost six years running, it has not been able to attract nor showcase any DIF brought in by its own negotiating power; and being cognizant of the difficulties attached; yet is doing everything possible to shoot itself in the leg by heaping unwarranted hurdles in the smooth operations of AML, this to me, suggests something unfair to AML by the government.
Another retired employee of LAMCO residing in Grand Bassa County, Mr. David Kpaunglee who spent over twenty years working on the railroad track narrated that the government is behaving like a little rascal boy roasting rats in two separate fires located very far apart. Now, the irony is while he is out there being busy with that set of rats, obviously, the one on the other side will surely get burnt. According to him, the best thing to do is to be firm, pragmatic, and honest by rendering to Caesar the things of Caesar and to God the things of God. Avoid eating this way and that way because time which is indeed the enemy, will surely tell.
Again, former Montserrado County Senatorial Candidate Shiekh Al Moustapha Kayateh cautioned President George M. Weah’s 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 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.
Meanwhile, we are urging that the President should stop treating the ratification of the third AML’s MDA as a very dangerous taboo because the sober reality borders on the people’s bread and butter status, and as the people’s leader there was your greatest concern an commitment must be to ensure it’s not treated as pure poison for your craving people who are struggling desperately to barely keep their noses above the water to avoid sinking.
Without any further hesitation, we urge the President to break the current impasse, listen, and act by buying into what the people including his finance minister are propounding. Equally so, it is profoundly expected that President Weah elevates and makes the spirit of the meeting he (President Weah) held with the owner of AML while in Qatar will rapidly glow and transform into a fruitful reality for the partnership on a win-win basis.