Liberia: Senate Concurs with House on Passage of Recast National Budget
MONROVIA – The Liberian Senate on Monday concurred with the House of Representatives to pass the 2022 recast budget which now includes a promised US$30 million from HPX, a concession company wanting management rights over the railway facility from Yekepa to the Port of Buchanan for the purpose of exporting iron ore from Guinea using the facility.
The expected US$30 million stood tall as an issue of concern by some members of the Senate and because of their concerns, the Minister was requested to appear before the plenary along with officials from the Liberia Revenue Authority to explain the legality of the source.
“Having critically reviewed the submitted engrossed bill, by the HOR and all its content, Senate statutory Committee on Ways, Means and Budget recommends to full plenary to concur with the House of Representatives for passage.”
However, Senators Darius Dillon Montserrado County, Nyounblee Karnga Lawrence (LP-Grand Bassa County), Johnathan Boycharles-Sogboie (ANC-River-Gee County) voted against the passage of the draft budget on grouds that they were not given sufficient reasons to take such risk on HPX. Senator Daniel Naytaahn of (ANC-Gbarpolu County) abstained.
During his appearance, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, told members of the Senate that the Liberian government was constrained to accept the US$30 million offer from HPX as signing fee because the government was faced with the challenge of raising civil servants’ salaries for a month at the time.
Their appearance became necessary after some Senators including Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon demanded an explanation for the inclusion of a promised US$30 million in the recast Budget.
HPX is a concession awaiting Legislative ratification. Their interest is to manage the rail between the republic of Guinea and the Liberian government for the sole purpose of transporting iron ore from Guinea to the port of Buchanan for exportation.
In the proposed recast budget, the Legislature is being asked to recast the 2022 National Budget in order to remove the US$25 million contributed by ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) as a result of the need to ratify its Mineral Development Agreement No. 3. AML’s contribution would be replaced it with an expected US$30 million resulting from the signing of a framework agreement between the Executive and HPX – a mining company opting to use the Yekepa-Buchanan railway to export iron ore from Guinea.
This means the legislature would be dropping an already secured US$25 million for US$30 million for a concession agreement that is yet to come before them.
The HPX is reportedly calling for the management of the rail from Guinea to Buchanan Port.
“They have brought it to us to remove the ArcelorMittal US$25million and replace it with the expected US$30 million from a framework document signed between the Executive Branch of Government and HPX,” Senator Prince Moye Co-chair on the Ways, Means and Finance Committee stated.
He made the disclosure in session last Tuesday.
In April this year, FrontPageAfrica reported on the ‘secret’ signing of a framework agreement between HPX and the Government as the possible reason behind the stalling of ArcelorMittal’s third MDA.
The signed amended and restated Framework Agreement with the HPX confirms the Liberian government’s principles for HPX’s non-discriminatory access to Liberian rail and port infrastructure and identifies HPX’s requirements for the future evacuation of ore from the Guinean Nimba Iron Ore Project.
The Framework Agreement, which is immediately effective, also sets out a timetable for detailed negotiations and the implementation of a definitive Concession and Access Agreement for HPX’s infrastructure requirements.
As per the Agreement, HPX looks forward to having the right to extend the railway facility from Yekepa to the Guinea-Liberia border and have access to the Yekepa-Port of Buchanan rail.