At long last, members of the House of Representatives have agreed and voted to amend the APM Terminal Concession as part of their oversight responsibility, after three preliminary reports from the House’s Specialized Committee on Contracts, Concessions, and Review & Compliance.
The Lower House finally agreed on Thursday, February 27 (the 14th day sitting), following a request by the House’s Specialized Committee established in January 2019 to review all concessions, contracts and investment incentives (tax breaks).
In the Specialized Committee’s preliminary report on the operations of APM Terminals Liberia, it (Committee) indicated that it held a meeting on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, and observed with a keen concern that the APM Terminals was breaching the agreement.
“Accordingly, section 7.17 calls for 50% of managerial roles to be filled by Liberians within five years of capacity building and within ten years managers should be 75% Liberians,” the report said. The committee noted that February 2010 to February 2020 makes it 10 years that APM Terminals has operated in Liberia with this agreement yet to be honored and implemented. The committee’s report indicates that the agreement about managerial positions for Liberians is still below the 50% threshold.
The chairman of the House’s Specialized Committee, Lofa County District #3 Representative, Clarence Massaquoi, told his colleagues that APM Terminals disclosed expending US$130 million between 2010-2020; the managerial 50% is still ongoing and that it is in its ninth year instead of tenth.
The Committee said after cross-examination of representatives of APM Terminals, it has agreed on the following: “That there is a review of the APM Terminals’ concession; That the APM Terminals brings on the 4th of March 2020 a detailed report showing its total investment up to date and total returns on investment; submits a copy of the agreement between the company (APM Terminals) and the National Port Authority (NPA) authorizing it to keep providing marine services beyond the five years period stipulated in the agreement, and that the APM Terminals submits a transitional plan of achieving the 75% requirement of all top managerial positions being given to Liberian nationals.”
Before the Thursday report, the Specialized Committee on Tuesday, February 25, said it discovered that APM Terminals is the only Concession in the country that does not have an ‘Expressed Review Clause’ — meaning there is no clause in the Concession which calls for review or amendment by the Legislature.
The Committee indicated that it is unconventional for a concession not to have a provision for review, noting that it does not believe a concession should be signed and ratified without a review clause.
The Specialized Committee agitation was based on Article 20.1 of Concession which states: “No change, amendment, or modification of this agreement shall be valid or binding upon parties hereto unless such change amendment or modification shall be written and duly executed by the parties hereto.”
The House is expected to finally give a time-table to the amendment of APM Terminals upon receiving a final report from the Specialized Committee and subsequent collaboration with the Executive Branch.