The House of Representatives Committee on Claims and Petition has committed that the US800 million deal with global steel giant ArcelorMittal will be discussed with fairness to all parties involved.
House chair on Claims and Petition, Nimba District Four Representative Gonpue Kargon said the deal with ArcelorMittal will be discussed so that the youthful population of the country can be able to live in peace with the concession.
“So that Mittal herself can be pleased with Liberians and we too can be pleased with the company,” Rep Kargon said, as he received a joint petition from two civil society groups on the grounds of the Capitol Building on Thursday, December 9, 2021.
This brings to four, the number of independent CSOs that have so far pleaded with the Legislature to see a reason to pass the 2021 Amended Mineral Development Agreement.
The two petitioners – Partnership for Sustainable Development, PSD, and the Coalition of Youth and Students for Better Liberia (COYSBL) said after 52 weeks of intense negotiation between the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal through the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC), the Government signed the AML amended deal on September 10, 2021, and subsequently submitted same to Liberian Legislature for ratification, bearing in mind the general interest of the country.
“President Weah’s submission of the AML MDA Amendment to the Legislature for action,” the petition said a small segment of the society particularly from some of the three affected Counties have taken to the local media making claims that are deemed inflammatory and inciteful against the company with the propensity to undermine the investment image of our country and people.
Thomas Seller, the Advocacy Manager for Partnership and Sustainable Development who read the petition said despite these negative comments, and to inform discussions and decisions on the review and passage of the MDA Amendment, PaSD and COYSBL commissioned a Desk Review.
The review, he disclosed found that, if there are some previous provisions of the current AML MDA that have not been implemented, rather than calling for the outright rejection of the new deal and denying 3000 languishing Liberians the opportunity of jobs, policymakers, leaders, and senior citizens should sit with the company, understand the reason(s) for the community-related defaults and determine an effective solution, while the new deal is passed.
The Statement also warned that outright rejection of the company’s request for expansion should not be an option, as doing so could cost Liberia to lose a minimum of US$80 million in annual revenue, 3000 new jobs, an additional half a million dollars to the affected communities already US$3 million, development of various infrastructure, the elevation of Liberia in the Global mining community amongst others.
PSD and COYSBL told members of the legislature that rather than the “misinformation and negative propaganda” of ArcelorMittal taking sole ownership of the rail, the Legislature should inform the press and the general public about the multi-user provision in the new MDA.
The user provision the petition statement said allows for access of other users to the rail once they can further build its capacity as AML has been doing and plans to further enhance.
“We, members unequivocally call on the National Legislature, to spring up to the action, and urgently pass the ArcelorMittal Mineral Development Agreement, for the benefit of our people and country.
“No one, no single citizen, no lawmaker is against ArcelorMittal” Rep. Kangar replied the petitioners saying “whatever people are saying, especially the lawmakers, they are saying it in the interest of the general population of this country”
“We are willing to pass the deal but in return, we want to get something that Liberia, even our unborn generation to come will say yes, our father and others were here”
He emphasized that the Legislature is willing to pass the deal but that the company must be willing to improve the lives of Liberians.
Rep. Kargon assured the two CSOs that he will present their petition to the speaker of the House of Representatives for consideration but that the process of granting concessions is a give and take, “ALM will not take the iron ore without giving us something. We need things in return.”- he concluded