Liberia: Opposition Political Parties Raise Red Flag over Liberia-China US$2.5bn Resource Swap Deal
Monrovia – The tripartite political alignment of oppositions Unity Party (UP), Liberty Party (LP) and Alternative National Congress (ANC) is worried by the revelation of the natural resource swap deal entered into by the Liberia government and China.
Report by Willie N. Tokpah, [email protected]
Speaking Thursday, September 13, at the ANC Headquarters in Monrovia, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, ANC’s political leader, said that the George Manneh Weah administration’s move to swap “all” of Liberia’s natural resources for US$2.5 billion with China is risky for his country.
Mr. Cummings, who has worked in Corporate America, further stressed that the purported deal ‘has no clear definition.’
“The resource swap is of concern to us. The caption of this swap rings an alarming bell to me and all Liberians.
“I am not aware of a single situation where the outcomes of these kinds of arrangements have been a success. We do need to understand the details of what is being negotiated,” Cummings said.
Though the ANC political leader is “still carefully studying the deal,” he wants the government to explain clearly, what rewards the deal would bring for Liberia.
Cummings expressed doubts over the possibility of the deal becoming a success in the absence of Liberians understanding the details.
“We have not seen lots of details; I want to be careful to make statements based on facts. But do we as Liberians understand the values of our own resources? Have we done a work to know that our resources are valued at only US$2.5 billion? How do we know that it is not US$5 billion or US$10 billion?” he questioned.
The ANC political leader stressed that in the absence of clearly understanding the rewards the deal would bring Liberia and Liberians, government will be “killing the future of Liberians.”
According to him, government should not hasten with said deal in an effort to cover up for previous ‘failed loan agreements’ at the detriment of Liberians.
Cummings also raised concerns over how the natural resource assessment will be done to determine the value for the US$2.5 billion. He calls on Liberian Geologists to not sit idly by if and when such assessment is being conducted.
It was recently announced by Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah that potential providers of the money are expected to do an assessment of the natural resources in order to determine worth for money.
But speaking on behalf of the three aligning opposition political parties, Cummings pointed out that it would be unfortunate for Liberia to only rely on the providers of the money to do an assessment.
“Don’t we have our own Geologists or other people we can hire to access the value of our resources before entering a negotiation?” he maintained.
“It cannot be just about getting money to build roads; this is more complex. It is about us Liberians controlling the future of our resources in our country.
“We cannot kill the future of our country and our children; we must truly understand what are we giving up and getting in return,” Cummings cautioned.
He also used the occasion to draw the attention of the legislature to the deal, which if and when consummated will come to them for ratification.
Present Economic Concerns
Cummings at the same time expressed frustration over the gradual rise in the exchange rate between the Liberian dollars and the United States dollars.
According to him, until the Liberian government can put forth a clear economic policy that will revise the current downward economic trend, the exchange rate will continue to deteriorate, thereby leading to more hardship on ordinary Liberians.
He said, the Weah administration has no fixed economy plan but is rather squarely focusing on issues of increasing Liberia’s debt by negotiating for loans.“Until there is clear goal and strategy for our economy, the Liberian currency will continue to decline and prices will continue to rise,” Cummings opined
“Reviving the economy will require much more understanding on what it takes to put forth more economy plans and strategies into place.”
He further expressed frustration that the ruling establishment is jumping ahead and talking about two terms than trying to put in place a clear plan for education, health, agriculture, something he believes is a demand of Liberians.
He stressed that unless those economy plans are put forth, more investors will not be attracted to Liberia.
Culture of Impunity Must End
The three political parties’ spokesperson also found time to touch on the culture of impunity, which he said must end in Liberia and that justice and reconciliation must prevail.
Cummings wants the President to clearly state his position on the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia indicating that it is a matter of urgency.
However, he decided that he would remain calm on the matter until the President can come up with a clear statement on calls for war crimes court in Liberia.
“It is an urgent situation but until the President can give his view, I will not want to speak further on the matter,” Cummings said.