Legislature Suffers Backlashes for Rejecting ArcelorMittal’s Deal
By Democracy Watch News Desk
The Legislature has come under sharp criticism from the Political Leader of the Movement for Progressive Change and CEO of Consolidated Group, Mr. Simeon C.M. Freeman, for rejecting the third amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement negotiated and signed between the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal.
According to Mr. Freeman, if there are clauses in the agreement that have not been executed or ignored by AML as the public is made to believe, the House of Representatives is equipped enough to work along with their citizens in the affected counties to constructively engage ArcelorMittal behind the scenes.
In a live Facebook podcast, Mr. Freeman said if the government manages our investment climate that way, we will ultimately be sending a clear message to other investors that when they come to Liberia, they will be treated with the utmost decency and decorum. He furthered that if there are problems with certain aspects of agreements with investors, those problems must be resolved in civil ways so that they don’t become a basis for contrary opinions in a way that scares investors from Liberia.
“We must not forget it is the same uncivil approaches by the government of Liberia that caused Firestone to reduce its investment in Liberia. The way we operate as a country sometimes presents us as the only people that have access to certain things or resources. When we conduct ourselves in ways and manners that say we are the only ones that have these resources and this person needs them from us, all the investors have to do is to cut their losses and kiss goodbye to Liberia,” Mr. Freeman told the public in his live podcast.
Mr. Freeman warned the government that if ArcelorMittal leaves, other companies may come, but it will take them a minimum of five years in order to start anything productive, which will obviously cause our GDP to swing and other kinds of investments being brought into the country will also swing.
Mr. Freeman appealed to the Legislature to handle some of the issues against AML through committee room and those lawmakers from the affected counties where AML operates.
According to Mr. Freeman, the way the government treats investors in the country will send a negative signal to other investors that may want to come invest in Liberia. He asked the Legislature to employ caution and wisdom when it comes to the way they treat or handle investors like ArcelorMittal so that it doesn’t drive away other potential investors that will want to come invest in our country. Mr. Freeman cautioned legislators to adopt more responsible and civil approaches in handling investment issues other than the way they are treating Mittal’s deal.
Mr. Freeman is not the lone Liberian to criticise the action of the Legislature for irresponsibly handling the ArcelorMittal deal. Scores of civil society groups and other eminent Liberians home and abroad have widely criticised the action of the Legislature to reject a deal that is in the best interest of Liberia and its idled youth seeking gainful employment. Even the Liberia Revenue Authority told the public that AML has been a decent investment partner and the largest taxpayer in the country that has been supportive of the government developmental drive. The Minister of Finance and Development Planning speaking on state radio, heaped praise on AML’s deal as the best in the country’s history.