The Liberia People’s Party (LPP) has said it now has in its possession the reality of a deal of five hundred million United States (USD500, 000,000) dollars shrouded in secrecy and subterfuge, ratified by the Liberian Senate and awaiting obvious concurrence by the House of Representatives (notwithstanding the inconsequential showmanship of technicality being perpetrated by that Body) as reported in the media.
In providing foundation of its analysis on the transaction, the party quoted Samuel D. Tweah Jr, Minister of Finance and Development Planning inter alia “Let me be very clear on it, this is not a loan. It is an investment facility; a framework entered into between the China Road and Bridge Corporation and the Government of Liberia under the FOCAC arrangement to unveil US$2.5 billion for financing the country’s development over the next five years,” which the party stated was what the minister stated when he returned from China along with President Weah and others attending the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2018
According to a release from the party, LPP quoting media source as saying as “the fate of the BAO CHICO Deal now rests with the House of Representatives,” it wants to raise some salient points which it would categorize as another in the series of reckless and wanton abuse of office and naked looting of the country’s natural resources by government of Liberia under the disguise of the deceptive “Pro-Poor Agenda”.
The release furthered that the BAO CHICO DEAL is just another blatant commitment of a prime natural resource of the Liberian people and of the future generation for a whopping 25 years unabated.
The party then raised what it called the litany of concerns it has with the Bao Chico Deal among them the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) seeks to grant Bao Chico Resources Liberia a Limited Class A mining license to extract iron ore for 25 years, that the company was originally granted an iron ore exploration mining license in 2008 (MEL 12005) for the exploration of mineral products within the area specified on the license, which covered a total area of 87.4km2 in Bomi County, according to a 2014 LEITI Report and the MDA, it was recently discovered, is for a concession area in Gbarpolu County, where the company has no record of exploration under the license given.
Also the among the other issues raised by the party are that Gbarpolu County is known more for diamond and gold deposits than for iron ore, even if it were to be mining iron ore in the area, what provisions are in the MDA for the scale and quality of infrastructure required to transport the ore from Gbarpolu County to the point of shipment in Monrovia, Montserrado County or Robertsport, Cape Mount County and that Bao Chico Resources, Liberia Limited, according to a 2015 LEITI report, is a non-publicly listed iron ore company that is ultimately owned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The Mineral Exploration License of the entity is owned by Bao Chico Resources, Liberia Ltd., which is 100% owned by Bao Chico Resources. Bao Chico Resources ownership is as follows: Baosteel Resources, 50.1%; CHICO (China Henan Cooperation Group Co.), 40%; and Chico Africa Development, 9.9%. All three of these entities are 100% owned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
“Is Bao Chico Resources, Liberia Limited not the company representing China’s interest in a “mineral swap deal” announced by Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah between the Government of Liberia and that of the People’s Republic of China?” the party said
“Now we know that Liberia is once again being shortchanged with the shameless complicity of the CDC-led Administration – Liberia will now get only USD500 Million, just 20% of what was expected in the so-called mineral swap arrangement, instead of the USD2.5 Billion Minister Tweah assured the Liberian people they would get from the “…investment facility…”
“Why have there been no public hearings on the deal? We in LPP are not unmindful of the shady maneuverings and shenanigans when it comes to the prevailing resource governance architecture in the nearly last 16 years, which continues to be characterized by 4G’s ratification induced by brown envelopes perambulating in the corridors of both Executive and Legislative Branches of the Liberian Government”, the party said.
The press release further said that LPP recalled that on 12th August 2011, its founding vice chairman and chairman emeritus, Mr. Dusty Wolokolie raised identical alarming concerns about similar grudging situation in which the MDA on the Western Cluster iron ore deposits was hastily granted to a low-profile scrap dealer called Elenito in an arrangement “…tantamount to callousness and a blatant disregard for transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.” “In the end, Elineto obtained the concession agreement, flipped it for USD 150 Million after dangling USD5 Million to the Executive and Legislative Branches of our Government ”, the party accused the government..
“LPP reiterates that this Bao Chico Deal is not at all dis-similar to the Elineto Deal and urges President Weah to reconsider his decision to move forward with consummation of the Deal until it can be subjected to a robust, forensic scrutiny. In the same vein, LPP calls on the Legislature to reverse the secretive manner in which it is proceeding with this Bao Chico Deal and open up the process to public hearings where technical expertise will be brought in to provide expert knowledge and advice as a way of ensuring that due diligence is conducted in keeping with international best practices.
“LPP wishes to warn Bao Chico Resources Liberia, Limited that any concession agreement granted it by the Government of Liberia not conforming to the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Law and the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia shall not be countenanced nor honored by the LPP Administration come 2024”, the release concluded.