By Necus M. Andrews
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has written the House of Representatives, informing that body that she will submit the Firestone and Arcelor Mittal agreements for amendment and other Legislative considerations.
The President said the submission of these agreements, which she said will be done in the next few days, would also include copies of the summary analysis of the results of the 2008 negotiations on the two agreements.
In 1926 during the administration of President Charles D.B. King, the Government of Liberia entered into a 99 year concession agreement with Firestone Rubber Company for the planting and processing of rubber in the country.
Mittal Steal, the world’s giant steel company entered into a US$900 million mineral agreement with the Liberia during the first term of President Sirleaf to mine the country’s minerals.
In a communication to the House of Representatives Tuesday, the President informed the representatives that she was sending the two companies’ agreements for amendment due to deterioration of the two companies’ financial condition.
President Sirleaf told the lawmakers that the worsening financial conditions of these companies were triggered by the Ebola Virus Disease as well as sharp decline in global commodity prices.
“Many of you honorable members may recall that in 2008 the government went through similar exercise with these concession companies which led to renegotiations and amendments to the concession agreements,” the President’s communication addressed to House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay said.
In February 2008,the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement was signed between the Government of Liberia and Firestone Liberia, modified the 2005 Concession Agreement and came after extended negotiations.
The Agreement was signed by then Agriculture Minister, Dr. J. Chris Toe and Finance Minister, Antoinette Sayeh and attested by Justice Minister, Cllr. Philip A.Z. Banks on behalf of the Liberian Government.
The President’s communication comes exactly nine years after the first amendment by her administration.
She urged the representatives to look at the issue and act in the interest of the country.
Following the reading of the communication, the House instructed its committee on Concessions and Agreement and judiciary to make critical analysis and advice plenary.