LIBERIA: TAKING MONEY FROM MINING COMPANIES IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE LAWS
Amara KONNEH, former minister of finance of the Republic of Liberia, now Senator, has in a Facebook post reacted sharply to the accusation by finance Minister Samuel Tweah against the American iron ore company HPX.
In his facebook post, Senator Konneh said that the transaction between the Liberian government and HPX that led to the disbursement of the 37 million was kept secret by TWEAH.
“During his press conference on Thursday, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah indicated that HPX “paid $37 million to the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the budget since 2019” to the Consolidated Account at the Central Bank of Liberia for fiscal operations without a ratified concession agreement by the Legislature, which was illegal. Up until Thursday, the Liberian public knew little or nothing about the GOL-AML-HPX deal. It had been a secret!” Amara Konneh said.
HPX is High Power Exploration Incorporated, a company that is licensed to mine iron ore in Guinea, close to the border with Liberia in Nimba County. The company intends to ship its iron ore through Liberia since the port of Buchanan is closer to its operations area than Conakry, the capital of Guinea.
“But to do so, the HPX needs a concession agreement to use the railroad from Yekepa to Buchanan which is currently under the control of Arcelor Mittal (AML) based on its existing mineral development agreement with the Government of Liberia (GOL). While the negotiations are still ongoing among the parties – Arcelor Mittal, HPX, and the Government – the GOL, through Mr. Tweah, has been taking money from HPX in contravention of Liberian laws.” Amara said.
According to the senator, section 88.1 of the Amended and Restated Procurement and Concession Act (PPCC) of 2010 clearly states that no concession shall be implemented unless the proposed project has been issued with a certificate for concession.
“Also, Section 5.2(e) of the Amended and Restated Public Finance Management Act (PFM) of 2019 states that resources that become public money upon receipt include “proceeds received by the state from the sale or leasing of any property owned by the state”. Hence, by receiving payments from HPX without a consummated concession agreement with the GOL, Minister Tweah violated provisions of both the PFM Act and the PPCC Act, two sacred instruments that Finance Ministers MUST uphold.” Amara Clarified.
According to him if there were difficulties in having an agreement, why not work around those difficulties before collecting the money from HPX? On what basis did he accept the money? How was the money accounted for in the budget? What revenue line item was it placed under?
“Appropriations are made through the budget. Direct payments and disbursement are executed through the consolidated accounts based on projected revenues received as actuals. Too many unanswered questions! Don’t leave it for the 55th Legislature and the Boakai Administration. We need an open, transparent government to build a credible state.” The senator stated.
The mining sector in Liberia seems to have been the scene of secret deals under watch of Samuel Tweah during the Weah’s administration.
Speaking to the Daily Wtach, a European diplomat said that Solway Mining was also victim of the same secret deal.
“Where did the 17.5 million given by ArcelorMittal go in the deal where the license of Solway was illegally taken and given to AML? Why is he crying foul when he is the one who played fouls throughout?” The diplomat said.