31 July 2014

Liberia: Lucrative Deal for Liberia, Investment Commission Chair Says

Monrovia — National Investment Commission (NIC) Chairman Mr. Michael S. Wotorson says his commission is in the process of finalizing the arrangement with West Africa Exploration (WAE), a mining company in Guinea that wants to build and operate a railroad in Liberia to transport iron ore over the Liberian border through Yekepa in Nimba County and to Freeport of Monrovia or the Port of Buchanan.

"The West Africa Exploration (WAE), has received permission from the Guinean and the Liberian governments to operate the railroad and why this is important to Liberia, is that the companies that will be mining in Guinea, would need to export their iron ore, and coming through Liberia, they will need to use that railway to use our port. And what that means for Liberia, is significant revenue, this is why it is in our interest to finalize the agreement."

Speaking during a recent chat with journalists at the NIC Offices in Mamba Point, Monrovia, Chairman Wotorson said due to the long distance from the mining site near the Guinea Mountain to Conakry, where the port of Guinea is, and the cost associated, it would take years to construct a railroad. He disclosed that the iron ore mine located near the guinea mountain is closer to Liberia as it would be less expensive to come through Liberia.

On whether a mining site will be established in Liberia, Mr. Wotorson said West Africa Explosion will not be establishing a site in Liberia but it will only be getting the iron ore from point 'A' which is Guinea to point 'B' which will be through Liberia's port. Speaking about other areas like Micro Finance and Liberalization policy, Chairman Wotorson said the NIC recently entered into an agreement with a Liberian Micro Finance Institution called Liberty Finance and the company will provide financial opportunities to medium and small investors within a maximum range of 5-6 thousand United States Dollars.

"What I try to do at the National Investment commission is to place a great deal of focus on our interactions with Liberian Institutions and businesses, not that I want to discriminate against foreign businesses, but I think it is extremely important that we provide more space to Liberian institutions," said Chairman Wotorson.

He continued "Because if you invest five to six thousand to help medium and small businesses to expand and stand stranger, you are democratizing economic growth even better, because you are providing opportunities for many people at a lower level."

Also speaking on Liberalization policy, Chairman Wotorson said though, the Ministry of Commerce is responsible to regulate who is doing business, what kind of business, but beyond that, the Investment commission focuses on whether that business is majority owned by Liberians by 51 percent, which is their threshold.

"At the NIC, we have something call our special investment incentives, which is a basic idea that when a business comes to us, and before we even look at your application, we require you to go out and enter into a relationship with a technical vocational Educational institution, like LOIC or MVTC and establish an agreement with them," says Wotorson.

"And ask that you hire a certain quantifiable number of their graduates and you are going to promote those graduates in leadership and managerial positions in a way that will be monitored and quantified. So we actually tell you that within a certain period of time that we want to see 'X' number of people you took from LOIC placed in these kind of positions, and we don't' let you agree verbally but we allow you sign an agreement with LOIC or MVTC and bring that agreement to us."

He said the NIC also allows an investor to make an agreement related to how they are going to procure the kinds of things they need and we would want to see that they enter into some kind of relationship with a Liberian business that is 51 percent majority owned by Liberian, that they are going to have a relationship to purchase things from them, and bring that agreement to NIC.

"Lastly, we will require you to sign an agreement with us that says everything we require you to do; you will agree to do it. Once we have done all of those things, we will now look at your application and evaluate it and determine whether or not you are eligible and you receive a special investment incentive. Which again, will be duty free privileges for five years and determine on where you locate your business?", the NIC Chairman said.


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