— As Chamber of Commerce resumes its monthly business luncheon
The Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Molewuleh B. Gray, says the Government is exerting all efforts to resuscitate mining projects that are currently dormant in hopes of seizing the new improvements in the prices of primary commodities on the global market, particularly gold and iron ore.
Mr. Gray said real GDP growth in 2021 is forecast to rebound to 2.8% due to increased demand for Liberia’s key exporting commodities including iron ore, gold, diamond, and rubber — assuming major importing countries in Europe and Asia cope with the COVID–19 pandemic according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).
“We expect that China Union, Bao Chico, Putu Iron Ore Mines, Jonah Capital (formerly BHP Billiton) and so on, will recommence immediate operations due to the rebound in the prices of commodities. Iron Ore price today stands at US$179 and projected to grow up to US$200 by the 1st quarter of next year,” Mr. Gray said.
According to him, the profitability of a mining project is dependent on commodity prices and production cost, stating “generally, production costs increase throughout the life of the mine as more effort is needed to reach the deposit.”
He said the NIC with strong support from GIZ is conducting a study of the mining sector in Liberia with a particular focus on downstream opportunities created by mining operations.
“The intent is to identify these opportunities and to package same based on the timeline of mine development. The findings will inform the establishment of a Supplier Development Program to enable local firms to take advantage of the procurement opportunities created through mining operations,” Mr. Gray said.
He called on the Chamber of Commerce and its members to prepare themselves when operations at these mines take off, Liberia Chamber of Commerce can take charge of the Suppliers Development Program.
Mr. Gray said the Chamber must work with the Commission to ensure that domestic businesses supply the procurement needs of mines without exception, indicating that capacity imposes a limitation on the extent domestic business can benefit from mining operations in Liberia.
“Every mining agreement carries local content provisions. The Commission is keen on ensuring that mining companies are required to procure locally domestically procurable goods and services. One way to achieve this is to limit duty waiver on goods mining companies can procure locally,” he said.
He added that many domestic businesses lack the financial capacity to pre-finance when bids are won and encouraged that the financial sector to work very closely with businesses that have been awarded contracts and are required to pre-finance.
Mr. Gray said banks are critical in providing finance for domestic business to be able to take advantage of opportunities created by mining operations in Liberia.
The Commission continues to explore avenues to integrate the domestic economy into the global economy through linkages and local content programs between domestic businesses with the large multinational companies operating in the country.
“The impact of these business linkages has not been optimal, but our effort testifies to the fact that when foreign investors source and procure goods and services locally, the domestic private sector benefits, thereby impacting the growth of the economy,” Mr. Gray said.
According to him, historically, Mining has played an important role in the development of the Liberian economy.
Lebanese Ambassador to Liberia, Henri Kastoum, is calling for strong support to the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, particularly the new leadership.
“We are needed because we consider the Liberia Chamber of Commerce as a key entity for any investment coming in the country. We will work together with the government, diplomatic corps, and the business community to make Liberia an attractive force for investment,” Mr. Kastoum said.
Chamber of Commerce President Calls for Renew Partnership with Investors, NIC
Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) President, Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh, has called for a renewed partnership with investors, and National Investment Commission to help promote Liberian businesses.
“Your presence here today reminds me how important the chamber of commerce is in the Liberian business community and the international community.
Cllr. Tweh recounted that the chamber of commerce is the oldest and most representative institution representing the diverse private sector comprising of over 300 companies and business associations and dedicated to aiding the creation of enabling and conducive environment in Liberia for commerce industry, trade, and investment in the country.
Cllr. Tweh said in the past, the business luncheon was a regular feature of the chamber of commerce, which had a monthly luncheon attended by key individuals of government functionaries who spoke on diverse topical issues relating to commerce and industry and this initiative proved to be beneficiary to the business community and the new leadership of the chamber has decided to reactivate these formal luncheon programs.
He said as a primary representative of employers and the business community as well, it is the role of the chamber to organize events that create a platform for investors of the private sector to meet policymakers in government planning issues and propose that will yield a win-win situation for all.
According to him, presently, in partnership with the Ministry of Labor, they are in the process of jointly initiating a project for the employment of college graduates by Liberian businesses.
“We are in the final stage for this process and we want to thank the government of Liberia particularly the Ministry of Labor for this joint initiative. The chamber stands ready to support the government in whatsoever way,” Cllr. Tweh said.