Ghassan Bassma Not on Liberia’s Turkey Delegation; As Trip Yields Fruits
Monrovia – A source on the recent Liberian delegation to Turkey has clarified that Lebanese businessman Mr. Ghassan Bassma was not an official member of the Liberian delegation as reported by FrontPageAfrica but rather was present as a guest of MNG with whom he has a current business engagement relating to Liberia.
The source explained that Mr. Bassma has been engaged with MNG as a vendor for quite some time and did not leave Monrovia with the delegation but was asked by MNG with whom he has an existing relationship regarding its Monrovia operations.
FrontPageAfrica has meanwhile reliably learned that the Turkish billionaire Mehmet Nazif Günal whose mining company, MNG is currently exploring the Kokoya Gold Mine located northeast of Monrovia, has expressed interest in other investment opportunities in Liberia including the reconstruction of the famous Ducor Palace Hotel and the dawn of Turkish Airlines in Liberia.
The company has also reportedly expressed interest in reconstruction of the Monrovia-Robertsfield Highway.
The delegation to Turkey included: Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, Minister of Justice Cllr. Frank Musah Dean and President Pro Temp Albert Chie.
The government is also said to be in negotiations with Sime Darby, ArcelorMittal, Golden Veroleum and a host of other companies in a bid for an advance on taxes to salvage the struggling economy.
The delegation to Turkey was reportedly seeking a ten-year advance from MNG Gold. While it is unclear how those discussions ended, FrontPageAfrica has learned that MNG informed the delegation that it is considering the request and would report back to the delegation. FrontPageAfrica has also learned that MNG is said to be exploring between US$8 million and US$25 million advance although the number of years attached is unknown.
The source, however, informed FrontPageAfrica that the government delegation was seeking up to US40 million in advance taxes but MNG reportedly budged and is said to be leaning toward doling out US$8 million with the balance US$17 million being given to MNG in contracts – as part of advance toward taxes totaling US$25 million.
FrontPageAfrica has not been able to ascertain whether the advance is tied to the reported interest of the Turkish company in revamp of the Ducor Palace Hotel and the dawn of Turkish Airlines in Liberia.
The Ducor Palace Hotel overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Saint Paul River and Monrovia’s West Point district. Established in 1960 as a luxury hotel, it had 106 rooms on eight stories at the highest point of the city. Located on Ducor Hill, at the end of Broad Street across from United Nations Boulevard in Monrovia’s main business district, the building has fallen into extensive disrepair and was occupied by squatters who were removed before a failed effort at a Libyan-funded renovation.
The Turkish billionaire reportedly expressed interest in redeveloping the hotel during the Sirleaf administration but lost to a Nigerian Captital Venturist.
A source familiar with the Liberian delegation which recently made a trip to Turkey in a bid to seek advance payments in taxes from the company to salvage the struggling Liberian economy told FrontPageAfrica recently that, Mr. Günal expressed to the delegation a willingness to revamp the Ducor Hotel as well as explore other investment opportunities in Liberia.
MNG which commenced operations in Liberia in 2016 with a capacity of 650,000 tonnes per year and an average output is expected to remain at ninety-five percent, is on the verge of completing the Kotoka International Airport in Ghana which will accommodate more than five million passengers.
MNG Liberia, owned by Günal also operates the Liberty Gold Mines that operates the Avesoro Resources in Western Liberia (Bea Mountain) and the MNG-Gold which is the Kokoya, Bong County gold mine, regarded as the two of the largest gold mining operations in the country.
The company is also mining in the Youga Gold Mine located approximately 180 km southeast of Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso.