13 December 2013

Liberia: Ellen Raps Blair On Job Creation

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair that a vast majority of the citizens, especially the youths, will benefit from employment opportunities in the coming years from the private sector. Liberia's Youth Minister, Eugene Nagbe has expressed disappointment over the current '70 percent' youth unemployment rate which, he said, is alarming and worrisome to the future of the country.

Speaking recently at the Executive Mansion when she briefed former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair on how her government intends to achieve the goals of the 'Agenda For Transformation', (a policy document to foster national development). President Sirleaf said her government is making sure that direct foreign investment in Liberia creates more jobs for Liberians with specific focus on young people.

She said the government will also make sure that laws regarding ensuring equity in the country are implemented to tackle youth unemployment, good governance, and corruption.

President Sirleaf noted that foreign investment, including ArcelorMittal, an iron ore mining company, will address the country's unemployment difficulties in coming years, when it shall have increased in its operation from five million tons a year to 15 million tons over the next two to three years.

"Next Tuesday there will be a meeting in Yekepa, Nimba County of ArcelorMittal Board that will kick off phase two of the company operations. Exports have already started, but they will be increasing; the output from the mines from five million tons a year to 15 million over the next two or three years," President maintained.

For his part, Mr. Blair commended the leadership of President Sirleaf, adding that since 2006 Liberia has come a long way. "Of course, the challenges are still there in terms of job and opportunity for the young in the next stages of the transformation for the country," Mr. Blair noted.

He furthered that Liberia is on the move; adding that over the next period, some very important things would happen.

Mr. Blair promised to support the government and people of Liberia in many ways in years to come.

Recently, company, contracting from ArcelorMittal, Engineers and Planners (E&P) accused the company of failing to pay for services rendered to the company.

The Country Director of E&P, Pamela Bowen told journalists last week in Monrovia that ArcelorMittal is forcing and threatening to sack their (E&P) workers if they fail to go back to work after the management of E&P had put a halt to their workers coming to work because of the alleged arrears owed them.

She said the situation has created division amongst the workers with some fearing the dismissal threat and others in favor of the stay order by E&P.

The situation is said to be creating hardship for many of workers because of ArcelorMittal's alleged failure to settle E&P arrears.

But the management of ArcelorMittal denied ever owing E&P.

In a press release issued in Monrovia Monday December 9, the Management of ArcelorMittal said services rendered by E&P in previous months and all payments are made per the contract agreement.

The Company said at no time it has threatened to sack any worker of E&P because the company (ArcelorMittal) has no authority to hire or fire any employee of E&P.

The Ghanaian owned E&P was contracted by ArcelorMittal Liberia in May 2011 to carry out mining activities at the Tokadeh mine in Nimba County. The company said it informed E&P in October, 2013 that at the end of the current contract, which expires on December 31, 2013, ArcelorMittal will take over the running of the mine as part of its localization strategy, which is consistent with ArcelorMittal compliance with the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA).

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