Liberia: Pres. Weah, Others Caution

-As Shiekh Kuyateh Informs Them against "Investment Mishandling

Former Montserrado County Senatorial Candidate Shiekh Al Moustapha Kuyateh has cautioned President George Weah and his officials against "mishandling" the ArcelorMittal agreement.

Moustapha Kuyateh told a live talk show on Prime FM in Monrovia on Wednesday that the Liberian people are not interested in vain projects but are concerned about a major improvement in economic activities that can put food on their tables.

Kuyateh wants President Weah and his officials to see the US$1billion AML agreement as an opportunity to advance economic development and alleviate the Liberia people from abject poverty.

Kuyateh : "When President Weah came to Power he said he met a broken economy, so the ArcelorMittal agreement is an opportunity for you to fix the economy. To create jobs for your people", he continued, "this is an opportunity to encourage other international partners to come over because when they talk about investment in Liberia, ArcelorMittal is the only company that other foreign investors will contact and they will tell you the kind of government they are about to deal with.

The former Montserrado Senatorial candidate thinks that the Government of Liberia including the legislature should be honest with the Liberia people about the complications confronting the nation and desist from acts that drive away investors.

"I am urging President Gorge Weah; I am urging Speaker Bhofal Chambers, the Chief Justice, and fellow Liberians let's protect the future of our country, let's not take the future of our children out of sentiments and misinformation.

He described the manner and form in which Liberian authorities have handled the agreement as "an embarrassment that a company that has been with us for about 17 years is being bad mouthed and turned down because of a company whose investment is in another country- Guinea.

Quizzed on why he was particular about the AML deal, Kuyakeh responded that the new AML deal is the singular most important foreign direct investment capable of transforming the Liberian job market as opposed to any other offer.

The AML third Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) he emphasized will deliver thousands of new good-paying jobs, encourage small and medium-size business expansion, and environmental conservation, and offer modern training opportunities for the youth of Liberia whom he noted are languishing in poverty and joblessness.

"My caution is in good faith because I love Liberia and I am specific about the future of my country as opposed to any short-term benefit", he added.

In September 2021, ArcelorMittal Liberia and the Government signed a milestone amendment to the company's Mineral Development Agreement ('MDA') which paved the way for the expansion of its mining and logistics operations in Liberia.

When passed into law, the MDA amendment will significantly ramp up production of premium iron ore, generating significant new jobs and wider economic benefits for Liberia.

The expansion project - encompasses processing, rail, and port facilities and is one of the largest mining projects in West Africa. The capital required to finalize the project is expected to be approximately $1billion, as it is effectively a brownfield expansion.

The expansion project includes the construction of a new concentration plant and the substantial expansion of mining operations, with the first concentrate expected in late 2023, ramping up to 15 million tonnes per annum ('mtpa'). Under the agreement, the company will have a reservation for expansion for at least up to 30mt.

Both Houses of the Legislature passed the agreement on separate notes.

But, the House of Representatives acted on its own in an emergency closed doors session to send back the agreement to the executive for unexplained reasons, instead of going into conference with the Senate to resolve the differences in their separate passage.

The action of the Lower House has been met by a wave of criticisms from ordinary Liberians and prominent political actors including Movement for Progressive Change Political leader-Simeon Freeman who on Monday criticized the decision and branded it as "not investment-friendly".

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