Legislative Patriots or Coterie of Kleptocrats?
By Democracy Watch
Nothing absolutely exposes the depth of leadership bankruptcy, kleptocracy and absence of patriotism other than when leaders of a country aggressively demonstrate an incessant ambition for self-glorification over what is of greater interest to a country’s overall economic progress or has the potential to undermine the security of the state. Without an ounce of attempt to be hyperbolic, Democracy Watch strongly holds the view that the rejection of the ArcelorMittal deal that is in the national interest of our country by the 54th Legislature recently, was a quintessential display of lack of patriotism and a reckless betrayal of citizens’ trust.
Over the length of time the third amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement so far has languished at the Legislature, our lawmakers cannot point to any genuine reasons for such astonishing rejection of the deal that would’ve expanded the investment portfolio of ArcelorMittal by an additional 800 million United States Dollars.
The additional US$800 million investment ArcelorMittal is poised to invest in Liberia had the Legislature ratified the agreement, would create over 2,000 new jobs for unemployed youth of the country. Already, AML, over the last decade, has created over 3,000 jobs for Liberian citizens, paid a little over 45 million in social corporate responsibility to affected counties and has provided over 500 million in royalty to support economic development in Liberia through direct support to the national budget. Did I also mention the over 1.7 million that AML has spent on educating some of Liberia’s brightest students in foreign lands and the millions of dollars that annually AML pays to fund the Nimba County Vocational and Technical College – providing Liberians the needed technical skills required for the job market.
In the midst of all what ArcelorMittal, Liberia’s biggest taxpayer, has done in Liberia to provide employment and other opportunities and skills for our citizens and continues to do – something that no other company has done, it is with deep sadness we witness the rejection of the third amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement by our lawmakers in flagrant disregard to the far-reaching toll such rejection of a deal has on our economic development as a country and people. This singular act by a coterie of legislative kleptocrats is nothing good but a wicked plan to inadvertently deny over 2,000 young Liberians gainful employment – and whilst at the same time taking bread from on the tables of over 3,000 families that have already been employed by ArcelorMittal.
If the company walks away as the Legislature action suggests, over 3,000 Liberians will be out of jobs immediately adding up to the already worsening economic quagmire.
If the assertion that all free governments are instituted by the authority of the people and for their benefit, safety and happiness as enshrined in article one of the Liberian constitution, then the Legislature must rescind her action and expeditiously ratify the Mineral Development Agreement negotiated and signed by the Executive and ArcelorMittal-Liberia.
It is been rumoured that several lawmakers have been working covertly for some companies with vested interests in the mining sector but lack the equivalent capacity of ArcelorMittal to provide in royalty and other benefits what our country has enjoyed from AML.
It is saddening that our lawmakers don’t know that the 45 million dollars that has been embedded in the national budget as revenue from AML will cease to come to support economic development as a result of their rejection of the agreement. In buttress to that also, the 3 million dollars that affected communities or counties AML is operating are receiving will immediately cease to come to these communities. Appallingly, the 52 percent local Liberian businesses AML gives opportunities to will be cut off automatically. These huge contribution ArcelorMittal is making to support Liberia’s development programs for me should not be risk losing.
With all these listed demonstrating AML’s ample investment in Liberia over the years and what our country and people stand to benefit in the future by the ratification of the third amendment of the MDA, leaves us to question the action of the Legislature to reject a deal that is in the best interest of the country and its idled youth, if not in support of their kleptomaniac agenda.