Liberia: Does the House of Rep Not Know What They Are Doing?

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A LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE of a major investment firm is asking President George Manneh Weah to intervene in what may appear to be a hiccup in an investment deal that is allegedly facing serious obstruction at the House of Representatives. This is so unnatural that the Chief Executive should be asked to intervene in matters that lawmakers at the House or Representatives should know better not to sit idly looking at the present economy realities in the country. 

EVEN THOUGH the House of Representatives is expected to today have the discussions on this major investment, which should last for a quarter of a century, deliberated on.  

THE AGREEMENT of this investment has long been consummated between the Liberian Government and Prista Oil Holding EAD, which is the mother company of Prista Port Buchanan LLC. 

SO, BY VIRTUE OF the Concession Agreement dated 14th August 2019, approved by President Weah on September 12, 2019, it was ratified by the Senate with Act No41 on September 30, 2019, Prista Port is expected to manage the Port of Buchanan for 25 years.

IT IS A LIBERIAN business entity, which was established by the European multinational company Prista Oil Holding EAD, in order to facilitate the recently concluded Concession Agreement with the Government of Liberia for the Port of Buchanan.

ACCORDING TO THE CHAIRMAN of the Board of Directors of Prista Oil Holding EAD, Mr. Plamen Bobokov, Prista Oil Holding’s Board has approved an investment program of US$277 million to be invested in the Port of Buchanan. Bobokov further disclosed “Additionally, we expect about US$200 million to be invested from third parties in the industrial zone and in the city of Buchanan. The new investments are expected to create jobs for more than 5000 people, where as we gave guarantee to the Government for 2000 working places by January 2020.”

THE INVESTOR FURTHER disclosed that Prista’s obligation during the 25-year stay at the Port of Buchanan will be to develop, to refurbish, to maintain and to manage the port including an industrial area and some important social responsibility projects (schools, training centers, local electric network, agriculture training programs, etc.)

BOBOKOV HAS also expressed his bewilderment that they are baffled that the last formal procedure—“the issuing of the Handbill, allowing us and the Government’s representatives to start the 90-day transition/handover period has been withheld so far, due to unexplainable reasons.”

“WHAT IS MORE surprising with the delay is that the Concession Agreement stipulates payment to the Government of an amount of US$7 million on or around the Handover date, and additional US$3 million after one year. We consider that such signature bonus is large, but we also understand our obligation to support Liberia in a difficult situation.”

NOTWITHSTANDING, this good news and intend from the investors, there seems to be a stumbling block coming from people who should not play with the bread and butter issues of their constituencies.  

BECAUSE of what’s happening in the House of Representatives, the legal representative of Prista Port, Mrs. Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has had to write the President asking him to intervene.

“ON THIS OCCASION, I wanted to write to you because I have been instructed by Prista Port Buchanan LLC (“Prista”) in connection with their investment in the Port of Buchanan.

“AS YOU WILL BE AWARE, Prista has the concession to deliver a visionary transformation of the port and the surrounding area to create an exclusive economic zone of strategic national importance (“Port of Buchanan”). At least to me, it appears that Prista’s project is destined to play a vital role contributing to your legacy while driving Liberia’s economic growth and having a profound social impact.

“HOWEVER, despite Prista’s legitimate expectations that everything was in order with the concession after over one year of negotiations, planning and agreements, the project has suddenly stalled due to apparent stasis in the House of Representatives. Prista is concerned by this inexplicable and seemingly arbitrary obstruction and invites your intervention to make sure matters progress in accordance with due process at the forthcoming extraordinary session of the House on 10 December 2019.

“WE ALL HOPE the impediment to realizing the project will be resolved this coming Tuesday but must note that, in the absence of a solution, my client will explore all of its options, including its legal rights and remedies to protect its legitimate interests.”

OUR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES needs to know that no investors should have to write the Presidency asking the President to intervene in such important matter that they know borders around their re-election in any national future elections. 

LOOKING AT THE present tough realities in the country, including investors being scared to come and invest their hard-earned cash, when one tries and makes genuine effort to put in their money, members of the House of Representatives should do all they can to speedily run with such investments as their electorates would be the main beneficiaries. 

IT SHOULD NOT BE the President being asked to step in, it should be the other way around. The 73 men and women in the House of Representatives should know that the lives of their “peoples” are in their hands; so they should do all to make the right decision by their peoples. 

THESE INVESTORS are threatening to take the government or Liberia to court should things not go right. We plea with the House of Representatives that as they deliberate this matter in their EXTRAORDINARY SESSION today, December 10, please put Liberia first by doing right by the people. If you have any self-interest, please put that behind you and seek the nation’s interest first. 

EVEN THOUGH THE Senate has done its part with the deal, we are asking senators to stop by their colleagues in the House to intervene, too. The House of Representatives needs to know what they are doing and not play with the “peoples’” bread and butter.

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