Liberian Senate Cautions Over Granting Guineaman HPX Firm Priorities over AML
Co-authored by James B. Kollie & Julius T. Jaesen II
It is a widely held belief that government is established to serve the best interests of the people. This assumption is the cornerstone of social contract theory, as proposed by John Locke. The conceptual notion is based on the fact that economic and human security challenges, which are inextricably linked to unemployment, must not only be addressed by government, but must also be a top priority if the government must achieve and maintain a stable and peaceable society. Furthermore, non-state actors such as multinational businesses, which function as the state’s engines in creating variety of employment opportunities for locals, must be granted privileges and protection by the government, in addition to the extra incentives and leverage that must be enjoyed. One of such instances is a free business climate that is free from all forms of intimidation, bad PR, and smear campaigns. In this atmosphere of protectionism, on the part of government, has to be manifested in the handling of ratification instruments, avoidance of covert maneuvering and manipulations from a Guinean corporation such as HPX, which has no history of contributing to domestic and human welfare. Corporations such as HPX that is not even investing in Liberia should not be given an ounce of attention, especially so when its intentions are malicious, criminal, and grounded on a smear propaganda aimed at assassinating the hard-earned excellent service delivery reputation of a globally reputed company like ArcelorMittal, that has for over a decade contributed to Liberia’s peace and economic growth and development.
HPX is not only a scam of a company, but will use any opportunity given it to bankroll Guinea, subjugate Liberia of needed revenue and royalty, take bread off the mouths of thousands of Liberians who are currently in the employ of AML, while also establishing a scam, hostile and fraudulent investment climate that would promote and seek only the national interest of Guinea and its citizens, plus a few egoistic Liberian government officials.
Since signing a multi-billion-dollar concession agreement in 2005, the world’s largest steel and mining giant has not dwindled on its commitments and service delivery to Liberia and its people. The steel and mining giant has grown from being just a corporate institution bent on profiteering, into an entity that prioritizes the well-being of local communities in which it operates, as well as creating an ecosystem that provides human capacity development for surrounding neighborhoods including counties. AML prioritizes local workforce and has committed a huge chunk of its investment portfolio in manpower development of young Liberians. Consistent with this empowerment model of investment, over 3,500 young Liberians have been hired, trained, and placed into strategic technical, managerial, and administrative positions; thereby scaling up an impact that contributes to national development growth through taxation; something which otherwise would have been a meandering and growing security burdens to national government.
AML’s initiative is tailored at buttressing national government’s effort in the reduction of poverty, protection of peace, and insurance of genuine corporation. But more importantly the harnessing of the cognitive capabilities of young workforce, a significant and integral pillar of the government Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD). Unlike companies such Guinean HPX whose interest is squarely tailored at extracting natural resources, AML’s operational goal is the insurance that Liberia’s natural resources serve as a blessing rather than a curse to Liberia.
Considering the nexus between security and employment, Liberia’s growth can be boosted to its current level today due to ArcelorMittal Liberia’s direct investment (AML). Prior to AML’s concession, Liberia’s growth rate was decimal and minuscule, presenting the country with plethora of unresolved insecurity challenges. It is only commonsense or conventional wisdom that, in the interest of national security, a true spirit of protectionism and the intestinal fortitude and moral courage on the part of the government, particularly the Liberian Senate, be summoned now to secure the future of Liberia’s extractive sector – if they are truly the house of elders. This Senate’s effort is critically needed, not only to preserve AML and ensure the approval and passage of the extended mineral development agreement, but also to protect Liberia’s interests at the expense of a Guinean firm. This national call for not just AML’s protection but the protection of the national interest objective of Liberia is critical for both the government and the state. By this protection, Liberia will see an exponential rise bolstering of its GDP, especially as AML aims to, in the next quarters of its operation to establish a manufacturing plant in Liberia; thus, attracting more domestic workforce that would pay huge lumps in taxations – monies that would eventually trigger down to providing public goods and services, in order to enhance livelihood of the people. Therefore, this call of patriotism must transcend individual egoism and parochial interests, but must focus more on the bigger picture of securing Liberia’s climate and interest.
Guinean company such as HPX with absolutely no history of contributing to domestic and human development initiatives must not be given any ounce of credence whatsoever over existing local institutions like AML with proven records of contributing to economic growth in a big way.
However, if the national government does not exercise caution in the fast handling, ratification, and approval of the AML’s agreement, the country may experience a significant drop in domestic revenue galvanization. Furthermore, unemployment would rise, putting further strain on the national government and resulting in a national security catastrophe in an already unstable country. As a result, as delicate as this matter is, the onus is now on the “House of Elders” – the Senate – to show wisdom at its core in the passage of the AML deal, or else the repercussions will be dire in terms of economic and security.