President George Weah yesterday submitted to the Senate for ratification, the much talked about US$536,400,000 (Five hundred thirty-six million, four hundred thousand United States dollars) loan financing agreement between Eton Finance PTE Ltd and the Liberian government.
"The objective of this loan is to finance the coastal corridor connection of the country's county capitals road project, viz construction of the roads connecting Buchanan-Cestos City-Greenville-Barclayville, the Barclayville-Sasstown, the Barclayville-Pleebo; the Medina-Robertsport and the Tubmanburg-Bopolu, " President Weah noted in his communication dated May 7, 2018, to the lawmakers.
According to the President, also to be constructed are rest stops and roadside service areas; the construction of a vocational training center in Greenville, Sinoe County; the construction of mini soccer (football) stadiums in Harper, Maryland County, Barclayville, Grand Kru County; Greenville, Sinoe County; Cestos City, River Cess County; Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County; Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County and Bopolu, Gbarpolu County.
President Weah informed the lawmakers that the principal amount of the loan is payable in 15 years by level payment at an interest rate of 1.46 percent per annum, with a seven year interest and principal free grace period.
The contractor of the project, according to the communication, shall be the Joint Venture Consortium (JVC) comprising MAEIL, Liberia Construction Co., Ltd, a major Chinese Engineering, Procurement and Construction Company and subcontractors comprising Liberian-owned operated construction and engineering companies, all to be vetted and confirmed by the Ministry of Public Works in respect of their technical capacities.
"Honorable Pro-Tempore, I trust that the Legislature will ratify this agreement, which seeks to provide employment, build our infrastructure, strengthen our union, and drive our pro-poor agenda for the good of our Liberian people," the letter concluded.
It was received with a standing ovation, but later sent to the relevant committees with the mandate to report to plenary within 10 days.
Dangote, Firestone, other agreements recalled
In another development, President Weah has written the Senate, informing that body of his decision to recall five pending Investment-Incentives and Concessions Agreements currently before them for ratification.
The agreements include the controversial Dangote Cement Liberia Ltd; the Investment Incentive Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and TIDFORCE Investment Company and Liberia Steel and Cement Mining (LICEMCO); Concession Agreement between Liberia and the Nimba Rubber Incorporated (NRI) and an Amendment to the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement between Liberia and Firestone Liberia, Incorporated.
The recalled Agreements were recently reviewed by the Special Presidential Concessions Review Committee, with the mandate to assess and ascertain whether they are in compliance with the procedural and substantive requirements of Liberian Law, and to also evaluate the justification including benefits to the Liberian people and the nation for the tax and other incentives granted, according to President Weah's May 7, 2018, communication.
"Having reviewed these Agreements, the committee has derived that the legal requirements in these agreements were not fully adhered to, for example, several provisions of the Amended Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2010, were violated; that categories of tax relief. (Import, GST, Turnover, Presumptive, Fuel and Gasoline, withholding Interest, Dividends and Third Parties Services, etc) were either partial or fully granted to the concessionaires without any showing of measurable benefits to Liberia and its citizens; and most of these Agreements seem not to have been meticulously prepared as there are a number of avoidable typos and misinformation, while exhibits referenced in the Agreements were not attached," the communication added.
In consideration of those findings, President Weah informed the Legislators that he was recalling those agreements from their secretariat, "for reassessment by the National Investment Commission(NIC) to enable them meet fully the procedural and substantive legal requirements as well as value-for-money test to assure the benefit of the Liberian people, before possible re-submission to the Legislature."
Off to Sierra Leone
In a related development, President Weah leaves the country tomorrow, May 12, to attend the inauguration of Sierra Leone President, Julius Maada Bio at the State House in Freetown, the capital, an Executive Mansion release has said.
According to the release, the President trip is a result of an invitation his Sierra Leonean counterpart extended to him while President Maada Bio was on a one-day working visit to Liberia on Tuesday, May 8.
The two leaders, the release said used the time to share ideas on ways they can work together to enhance greater security and economic cooperation between the two Mano River Union members states.
President Weah will join heads of states from other West African sub-region to shed light on Sierra Leone's democratic triumph.
Weah will be accompany by Bhofal Chambers, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Albert Chie, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Gbehzongar Findley, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning and Emmanuel Shaw, Advisor to the President.
Others are Daniel D. Ziankahn, Minister of National Defense and Len Eugene Nagbe, Minister of Information.
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Farlo McGill, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Office Staff, will chair the Cabinet in close consultation with the Vice President, Jewel Howard Taylor and via telephone contact with the President.