Lawmakers will go on their first ceremonial break after Thursday’s session in observance of Easter, the most important and oldest festival of the Christian church, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Lower House, the House of Representatives, will on Thursday, April 6 adjourned for two weeks and is expected to resume work on Thursday, April 20.
The Easter Break is in consonance with the timetable of the House Rules and Procedures, which states that the Legislature is entitled to two breaks, Easter and Constituency/Agricultural.
Meanwhile, several bills are in Committee Rooms waiting to be deliberated on, including the Firestone Agreement and the controversy surrounding the transfer of assets of BHP Billiton to Jonah Capitals.
The modification of the oldest concession in Liberia, Firestone–Liberia, has been forwarded to the House of Representatives entitled: “Amended and Restated Concession Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and Firestone, Inc.”
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told lawmakers that the Bill seeks to amend certain provisions of the 2008 Firestone Concession Agreement which will gradually return Firestone to full rubber production capacity.
Moreover, the Bill will enable Firestone to consider commencing the process of diversification into other agricultural products.
The President said that the Government of Liberia and Firestone Liberia, Incorporated entered into an Amended and Restated Concession Agreement in 2008, which became effective on March 31, 2008.
However, there has been substantial and unanticipated decline in rubber prices since 2013 that threatened the continued viability of rubber production in Liberia.
As such, Firestone-Liberia’s Rubber production is less than 30 percent of the pre-1990 production levels due to the inability to replant during the Liberian civil crises.
The House is investigating what has been termed as a gross violation of the controversy surrounding the recent acquisition of four major iron ore assets in Liberia from BHP Billiton by Cavalla Resources – a wholly owned iron-ore holding company of Jonah Capital, chaired by Sam Jonah, a Ghanaian businessman.
The House believes that no transfer of assets should be done without the approval of the Legislature.
It has been discovered that BHP Billiton Iron Ore Holdings PTY Ltd in 2016 transferred their assets to Jonah Capitals without the acquiescence of the Legislature.
“What is troubling is the fact that the transfer to Jonah Capitals was only done with the Executive Branch,” Rep. Henry B. Fahnbulleh wrote.
“Its contrary to Section 23.1, which states that no transfer of (1) this agreement or a mining license, or (2) any rights of the company in a mine or any immovable infrastructure (other than in ordinary course of renewal and replacement of its properties and other than transfer of products in the ordinary course of business) is permitted unless the transfer has received the prior written consent of the government.”