MONROVIA – In a bid to expedite review of the third amendment of the Mineral Development Agreement between the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal Liberia, President George M. Weah on November 29, 2022 established a Special Presidential Committee headed by Foreign Affairs Minister Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., tasked to resolve all outstanding issues relating to the Revised Mineral Development Agreement (MDA). The President’s decision was triggered when he met with Mr. Lakshmi Mittal, the Executive Chairman of ArcelorMittal, in Doha, Qatar, whilst on his 48-day tour out of Liberia when he held discussions which were centered around resolving all outstanding issues surrounding the new MDA. But as the Weah administration winds down on its first term in office, apprehensions are running high that the Kemayah-led Committee might not deliver on its mandate, thus leaving Democracy Watch Managing Editor Julius T. Jaesen II with no option but to call on Foreign Minister Kemayah to report back to President Weah with the appropriate findings and recommendations that would advise the government on the way forward for the overall good of the country and people.
According to an open letter that Mr. Jaesen recently wrote Foreign Minister Kemayah, a copy of which is in the possession of this paper, the media executive is seriously concerned that, as the first term of this administration is nearing its end ten months from now, Liberians in need of gainful employment are deeply concerned about the fate of the ArcelorMittal deal that has a promising potential of creating over 2,000 direct new job opportunities and over 4,000 indirect new jobs for the young people who are growing in desperation to see their poor living conditions improved.
“In a few years from now, the legal lifespan of AML’s operations in Liberia will fade out, and if not renewed, contrary to what the third amendment seeks, coupled with the wish of thousands of idled and unemployed youth, AML will fold out from our country throwing out of jobs over 3,000 Liberians and inadvertently removing food from on the tables of thousands of households or families whose survival hinged on those who are currently within the employ of AML.
“Mr. Kemayah, your committee report will do the President’s development agenda, the Pro-poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity, a good favour when you speed up with your findings and advise the government of Weah to see the urgency of ratifying the third amendment to the AML agreement. As you are aware, the PAPD promised to walk over one million Liberians out of poverty in six years of the administration in which you work. AML phase two expansion seeks to increase production of premium iron ore, which will automatically result in the creation of many new employment and broader economic benefits for Liberia in support of our government PADP.
“As we all are aware, which we must not deny or overlook, youth unemployment, in any country the world over, adds to the strains on government budgets, increases the rate of crimes, and threatens social stability. To worsen this situation, the Covid-19 pandemic has added to the headwinds we are now experiencing as a country and people. We need to find ways to address these challenges. And one way to this, is the ratification of AML’s deal,” Managing Editor Jaesen reasoned.
Recounting the good tidings of the AML deal, Jaesen furthered that the steel giant has been a good corporate partner that has contributed to Liberia’s economic development more than any foreign direct investment company in Liberia.
“They have created over 3,500 jobs since their advent in our economy and provided more in royalties and other taxes than any company. With the passage of the new agreement with AML, they are set to provide more employment prospects and invest in other areas of our economy.
“Hence, I hereby urge very strongly your committee to speed up and advise the government of Liberia to see the need to ratify the AML’s agreement,” Jaesen argued.