Liberia: Absolute Charade?

The abrupt and overnight need to review all concession agreements throughout the country is a big cover-up and stems directly from the exposure of the controversial signature; although denied by Speaker Bhofal Chambers of not being his, which is attached to a cash receipt of US$500,000 provided by a subsidiary of a Guinean-based mining company contesting to use some of the facilities-rail track and port, currently being utilized by ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML); is an absolute charade and purposely intended to fan away the heat to give business as usual a breathing space.

The Liberian Government’s desire to attract more foreign direct investment looks like is taking a different trend with the pronouncement by the Speaker that they will review all concession agreements entered into by both this government and previous governments.

His statement on state radio last week comes after a cash receipt of US$500,000(five hundred thousand the United States) he allegedly signed for from HPX, a mining company that wants to use Liberian ports and railroad for its ore shipment from Guinea where it has concession agreement.

But before that, the third amended Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) for Arcelor Mittal was rejected by the House of Representatives headed by Dr. Bohfal Chambers.

He said Mittal’s MDA was not rejected but was asked to go and do some changes and bring it back to them for further discussions.

The Speaker denied ever receiving money from HPX. “The accusation is becoming lesser and lesser. Remember before I became a speaker, the former regime accused me of receiving US$3M from the Bong County Technical School Which I do not know. Once we try to do something, you will have a group of people who will want to undermine the growth and development of this country.

“It will not derail us. We will continue to remain on the track, the train must roll and we will do the right thing for our country and our country needs us. I do not know the people of Arcelor Mittal. The first time I got to meet them was on the first floor in the conference room. I have not met anybody with HPX, I have not met them; I have not met anybody from Ivanhole. I do not know them. So if somebody took my signature, it is part of the worse things.”

He continued: “Evil people do these kinds of things. Perhaps it is misplaced of trust. Perhaps somebody trusted somebody and is not going the person’s way. So they are doing these kinds of things.”

But when he announced that they would review all contracts entered into, many people have different views about it.

“I do not think is only Mittal (that was told to review the MDA), but we are going to look at other concessions. We intend to call, Mopp (Maryland Oil Palm Plantation.) We intend to call people from CRC-Cavalla Rubber Company), we intend to call people from GVL (Golden Veroleum Liberia), and we intend to call people from Golden SEFCA. We intend to call people from BeaMountani (MNG), we intend to call Firestone, he said.

Dr. Chambers: “so we will know what are Liberians just benefit in terms of this economic design. So it is our plan to know all these things when we look at them. We will not be deterred.”

One business executive said, “We think this statement sends a bad signal to the international business community. How will you review all concession agreements that were entered into by previous governments? This is bad,” one business executive told this paper on condition of anonymity.

A foreign diplomat said: “This is hard to be considered to be correct. Do you know what you are talking about? To call for the revision of all concession agreements? Well, for us, we will take a look and wait to see.”

Similar statements were made by previous lawmakers and government officials, but they did not yield any result due to the negative effect that such could have.

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