The Liberian Senate, on Wednesday, November 30, passed two concessionagreements between the Liberian Government and the SethiferroFabrik,Inc. and the Gola Forest National Park.
Following the passage of the two legislative instruments, SenatorAlbert T. Chie, Chairman of the Senate on Lands, Mines, Energy andNatural Resources, said the purpose of the Sethi ferroFabrikagreement is for the development of a Scrap Metal Recycling Plant andthe production of steel products in Liberia, while the Gola ForestNational Park will concentrate on minerals and conduct scientificresearch in the park with the collaboration of the park authority.
If the land for which the Gola Forest National Park is established isprivate property deeded, the government shall provide prompt paymentof just compensation to the property owners. On September 22, 2016, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate mandatedSenate Joint Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources andEnvironment; Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions; Ways, Means, Finance and Budget and Investment and Concessions to ratifythe proposed Investment Incentive Agreement between the Republic ofLiberia and the Sethi Ferro Fabrik Incorporated.
The main concern of the Joint Committee was whether there will beenough scrap to justify a recycling plant for steel products, as wellas the location of the plant and how will the scrap be obtained.
Others include the importation of scrap materials, if the scrap willbe bought on the free market without monopoly, as well as the marketfor the steel products, among other things. It can be recalled that the bill for the Establishment of the GolaForest National Park was submitted by the Office of the President tothe Legislature in 2014.
The proposed act was reviewed by the House of Representatives and sentto the Senate, without modification, for concurrence in August 2016. In September 2016, the Plenary of the Senate passed the instrumentwith the modification“that the Government of Liberia shall as provided in the Constitutionof the Republic have the right to prospect for minerals and conductscientific research in the park with the collaboration of the parkauthority. If the land for which the Gola Forest National Park isestablished is private property deeded, the Government shall provideprompt payment of just compensation to the property owners.”
According to the instrument, where there are towns and villages withinareas designated as the Park without interference, these towns andvillages should be set aside and allow its residents to carry out their normal activities.
The Chie committee reported to plenary that after thorough review ofthe information presented by representatives of the Ministry of Minesand Energy, the FDA and the SCNL, the Joint Committee endorsed themodification proposed by the Senate with minimal adjustment forclarity as indicated: that the Government of Liberia shall have, asprovided in the Constitution of the Republic, the right at all times to prospect for minerals and conduct scientific research in the parkwith the collaboration of the park authority.
If any land over which the Gola Forest National park is established isprivate property and deeded, the Government shall provide promptpayment and just compensation to the property owners.
Where there are towns and villages within areas designated as thepark, these towns and villages shall be set aside and its residentsshall be allowed to carry out their normal activities withoutinterference.
The Joint Conference Committee recommended to the Plenary of theSenate and the Plenary of the House of Representatives the passageinto Law, the proposed Act for the Establishment of the Gola ForestNational Park, with the above modifications in section 3.0 (i) and 3.0(ii).
By Bridgett Milton