Senators on yesterday intensively grilled the Ministers of Public Works, Mobutu Nyenpan, Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean, and Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister Samora Wolokolie on issues relating to the pre-financing agreement between EBOMAF S.A., and the Government of Liberia and ratified the US$420.8 million loan.
Senators H. Varney G. Sherman, Gbleh-bo Brown, and Morris Saytumah among others questioned the rationale of the loan money being directly turned over to EBOMAF rather than to the Government of Liberia, while the country (Liberia serves as guarantor.)
The Senators also argued that unlike the already ratified Eton PTE Financing agreement whose interest rate is 1.46%, EBOMAF rate is 6.5%, even though the loans will be performing the same purpose of road construction.
Like in the case with the Eton agreement, it was also noticed that the Justice Minister did not attest to the EBOMAF agreement, but instead, someone signed as a proxy.
The public hearing was presided over by the President of the Senate, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, and President Pro Tempore, Albert T. Chie, chaired the committee of the whole, and requested the Secretary of the Senate to read the Senate Committee’s decision recommending ratification, which was done through a motion.
According to President Pro Tempore Chie, the Government through the Ministries of Public Works, Finance and Development Planning, Justice and the Central Bank of Liberia, “convincingly illustrated to the Senate the crucial need and importance of paving those roads, the economic soundness, the ability of the lenders to provide the funds, the preparedness of our government to provide acceptable guarantees, the capability of the Republic of Liberia to pay back the loan on time.”
Most importantly, Senator Chie disclosed that the Ministry of Justice has confirmed to the Senate that all of the processes and procedures pertinent to the acquisition of the loans are well within the confines of the Law of Liberia and administrative guidelines and regulations, including the public procurement process and the requirements of international good governance.
“All of these facts and circumstances have been corroborated by the Public Works, Ways, Means & Finance and Judiciary Committees of the Senate which have been working on the issues for several weeks,” Chie told the press.
In a press briefing following the special sitting, Chie announced that the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) between Hummingbird Resources(Liberia) Inc. and the Republic of Liberia for the development of gold resources in some parts of Sinoe, Grand Kru, Rivercess and Maryland Counties was earlier yesterday ratified.
On the ratification of the MDA for gold in the Southeast which also contains areas where a mineral resource, possibly columbite-tantalite (otherwise known as coltan) has recently been discovered, “the Senate wishes to assure the public that over the next ten(10) years, the Government will accelerate the assessment, appraisal and sustainable development and management of its mineral resource base and other natural resources to improve the lives of its people, especially the rural dwellers and service these loans which have been obtained. ”
Yesterday’s ratification of the EBOMAF S.A. and Hummingbird Resources Agreements brings to rest two special successive sittings by the Senate and as one commentator put it, the lawmakers will now take on the issue of hearings on the 2018/2019 National Budget, while the Senate particularly returns to tackle passages of several crucial Bills such as the Land Rights Act, Local Government and Alien and Nationality(Dual Citizenship) Bills.