Amidst protest and countered protest
Group of Citizens from the host counties of ArcelorMittal operations residing in Grand Bassa have requested the Liberian Senate to ratify the proposed amended AML agreement before the Legislature.
The call was made on the Senate on Wednesday in a petition presented to Senator Saah Joseph, Head of a specialized investigative committee on AML US$800 million agreement.
Presenting the petition to Senator Joseph at a jam-packed town hall at the Tubman Unification Pavilion in Buchanan, the leader of the group Wedde Solopon Yarpa said the ArcelorMittal agreement must be treated with all levels of urgency required while the legislature engages the company constructively to address all of the community-related grievances that are in the media.
He noted while the company has not been perfect over years in Liberia and may have not done all that is stated in its current Agreement, but calls for rejection of the proposed amendment is insensitive to the unacceptable joblessness and extreme poverty facing the people of Liberia, particularly, the youths.
Yarpa could be heard arguing that “ratification of this Agreement would move Liberia one step towards addressing the urgent unemployment and other social and economic challenges of our Country.
The Group said they believe without any doubt that the amendment which paves the way for the expansion of ArcelorMittal Liberia’s operations is in the best interest of citizens of Grand Bassa, Nimba, and Bong Counties and Liberia in general.
“In so doing, we herewith present to you this petition as our official position and CALL to you to ratify the amended ArcelorMittal Liberia Mineral Development Agreement” the group’s petition stated.
The petitioners who are citizens of Nimba, Bong, and Grand Bassa counties residing in Grand Bassa bring to THREE the number of Civil Society and citizen groups who have so far petitioned members of the House and Senate to pass the AML agreement into law.
Liberians, they warned must bear in mind that due to the fallouts of the protracted and devasting fourteen years of civil strife in Liberia, ordinary people have been made to languish in abject poverty with the international image of the country dragged to the mud with no job for struggling youths.
They mentioned that reconstruction efforts attracted ArcelorMittal Liberia, as the first and largest private sector investment in Liberia’s post-war economic recovery, which boosted investor confidence to the world that Liberia was ready for business and global partnership; and AML stayed in the country even during the Ebola outbreak when many other companies fled the country
According to them, the ArcelorMittal agreement when passed will deliver fairly good economic opportunities including almost 3000 good-paying jobs created for the people of Liberia. With about US$300 million paid in royalties and taxes; over US$40 million County Social Development Fund paid, with senior management threshold in the MDA of 50% to achieve 66% Liberians in top management positions; and over 96% of all positions held by Liberians, with over 50% from Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties; 52% of all ArcelorMittal local vendors are Liberians, they believe the Company deserves to continue partnering with Liberia.
“ArcelorMittal Liberia provides the single largest export from Liberia contributing about 15% of the country’s GDP with the countless numbers of support the company has given to various communities including, handpumps, clinics, schools, and other contributions to the economic empowerment of the community, including partnering for the establishment of the Geo-services, Mining and Technical Department at the Nimba University, with recurrent support of US$50,000 annually”, said the petition.
On the debate surrounding unmovable assets in the AML agreement, the petitioners said they support provision in AML new MDA which addresses the matters of rail and port, allowing for multi-users arrangement where other companies can also assess the rail and port because they believe this promotes cross-border use and avails additional strain of revenues to the Government and people of Liberia,
The citizens of Grand Bassa, Nimba, and Bong Counties residing, concluded that they “unambiguously, unanimously, and emphatically”, petition “you our lawmakers, the people’s representatives to act in the best interest of Liberia and future generations after you, by ratifying the proposed amendment to the ArcelorMittal Liberia Mineral Development Agreement with “urgency”, while you engage ArcelorMittal constructively to address all of the community-related issues that are in the media. https://thenewdawnliberia.com/liberia-mining-war-looms/