1 March 2017

Liberia: 'Bogus Deal'

Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson has described steel giant ArcelorMittal's operations in the country as bogus. The Nimba County lawmaker made the allegation over the weekend when he spoke in an interview with reporters at his foundation office on Lover Street in Paynesville.

According to him, the amount of US$40 million was given to ArcelorMittal for the construction of the road leading from Ganta to Karnplay to well compensate affect residents, but said money was allegedly squandered and cannot be accounted for by the institution.

"This is unacceptable to the people of Nimba County and we as representatives of the people are 100% against that," he said. Johnson stressed that since the contract was awarded to ArcelorMittal, the company is yet to implement the project as citizens of the area are undergoing untold hardships and are suffering from the deplorable nature of the road.

He explained that the company signed a five-year concession agreement with the Liberian government and it has since been updated. Johnson cited that the illegal action by the company is due to the refusal of the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and executive branch of government to review the agreement signed by the company and the government.

"Because we are yet to know whether there were social obligations given to the company; senators are depending on the executive for protection, but the agreement is still far to be appraisal or reviewed", he stated.

The lawmaker noted that it is not a bad thing to bring in company based on negotiation but the rights of the people must be protected against these companies. In another development, the Nimba County Senator has called on members of the 53rd legislature to ensure that ministries and agencies account for monies that they have received foreign partners.

Senator Johnson named ministries of Health, Public Works and the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), among others as institutions to account for money received.

He maintained that most of the foreign money given for Liberia's development were allegedly mismanaged or squandered by people from America whom he accused of holding five jobs in the country while "top executives of government remain quiet over the issue".

He alleged that US$13 million was given to the Ministry of Health so as to revamp the sector and said money was squandered and it is yet to be accounted for by the institution.

Johnson further alleged that US$10 million was also made available in the national budget for youth employment and said fund up to date, is yet to be accounted for by relevant authorities as the issue of youth employment remain a serious challenge to the government and people of Liberia.

Johnson linked the lack of accountability as major factor responsible for the failure of the Ellen-led government and as such, these ministries and agencies must be made to give account of every fund given them.

It can be recalled that immediately after the merger of Arcelor and the steel giant, Mittal Steel, the newly merged company donated 100 Mitsubishi twin-cabin pickups to the 52nd legislature to allegedly lure the government to hastily sign the agreement with the company.

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