Passage of ArcelorMittal Agreement is a matter of National Emergency -Says Center For The Exchange Of Intellectual Opinion (CEIO), Liberia’s foremost Intellectual Forum and CSO-
The Center for the Exchange of Intellectual Opinions (CEIO), the nation’s leading intellectual forum has called on the National Legislature to speedily ratify the ArcelorMittal Liberia amended Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), with the government of Liberia.
In September last year, the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal reached an agreement to amend the MDA, paving the way for a mega expansion of the company’s operations in the country and extending the iron ore mining concession by 25 years.
CEIO secretary General, Dax Elliot said the center considers the ratification of ArcelorMittal Liberia’s US$800 million expansion agreement as a matter of national emergency and must therefore be treated with urgency by the 54th Legislature.
“The endorsement of the ArcelorMittal extension by 800 million USD is a matter of national urgency. If we lose ArcelorMittal, we are going to experience a deficit in employment as we are experiencing after the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The reason we consider the endorsement as a national emergency is not an injury to the survivability of the people of Liberia. It is not to our selfish gains as leaders of CEIO. It is to the holistic benefit to the people of the Republic of Liberia at large, and specifically to the counties of operations,” Elliot said.
Speaking Wednesday at the Center’s headquarters on Carey Street in Monrovia, Elliot said as an intellectual body, CEIO has conducted fact-findings and concludes that ArcelorMittal was immensely contributing to the economy of the country and survivability of many Liberians.
He said many of the claims in the public against the company were mere fabrications and propaganda.
“If you say in public perception that ArcelorMittal is not doing well, and CEIO fails to investigate to bring out the facts to prove or disprove the perceptions that ArcelorMittal is doing well or not doing well, and ArcelorMittal departs, imagine the insecurity that will be created as a result of job scarcity. It will fall on us, because we’re the conscience of society. We must be there to guide, because we are the light,” he added.
“So, we say no, ArcelorMittal must be retained. The request of ArcelorMittal for US$800 million expansion must be endorsed by the National Legislature as a matter of national emergency.”
According to the CEIO Secretary General, more than US$75 million of the government’s proposed annual budget of nearly US$800 million is dependent on projected revenues from ArcelorMittal, which is currently the highest tax payer in the country.
He said with the expansion plan, ArcelorMittal Liberia among several other benefits will create additional 2,000 new jobs, especially for young people between now and the next three years of the construction period, while the concentrator plant and expansion will create about 1200 new skilled positions for Liberians as the plant is planned to be commissioned in 2023.
Mr. Elliott told the forum that there is nothing in the proposed deal before the Legislature that speaks to ArcelorMittal Liberia seeking control or management right over of the Port of Buchanan and the railway.
According to him, in Article 3 of the Adended MDA, it is clearly stated that the Mittal and the government agreed for amuti-user arrangement for port and rail facility as contrary to the “massive propaganda” against the company in the media.
CEIO listed many achievements of AML ranging from provision of local and international scholarships, health care, community development initiatives, contribution to County Social Development and payment of millions of dollars in taxes and royalties as well as other non-concession related payments and engagements.
The intellectual group warned that if care is not taken, the county could soon become reminiscing the departure of a reputable concession which is recognized by global financial actors.
Meanwhile the group is urging the Liberia senate to act judiciously and pass the AML agreement into law to enable the creation of an additional three thousand jobs for struggling Liberia as stated in the agreement.
“UNMIL has left, we are now seeing the huge vacuum created by its departure and we cannot afford to witness before our eyes the departure of the company that has consistently contributed highest revenue to our national budget”- said the CEIO Co-Chairman, Sylvester Nah.
Nah urged the government and people of Liberia to handle the ArcelorMittal concession rectification with care and urgency, noting that could validate or dismiss the President George Weah’s “big pronouncement that the county is ready for business”.