– Nimba Lawmaker expresses disappointment
The House of Representatives, at 1:03 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, concurred with the Senate to ratify the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) between the Government of Liberia (GoL) and the Hummingbird Resources (Liberia) Incorporated.
This latest development, according to Nimba County District #6 Representative Dorwohn Gleekia, “the process of the concurrence was a disappointment.”
Gleekia chairs the House Committee on Peace, Religion and National Reconciliation. He informed the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that the “The Act to Ratify the MDA between the GoL and the Hummingbird Resources (Liberia) Inc. needed due diligence by scrutinizing the details.
According to the Senate’s letter to the House of Representatives, dated March 1, 2019, individual Senators approved the Hummingbird Resource Deal on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 12:23 p.m., thus seeking the House’s timely concurrence. The Hummingbird Deal is the Senate’s Engrossed Bill #3.
“I am disappointed over the process of the concurrence with the Senate on the agreement. I observed that there was not much time; no due diligence, and some of us do not know the cause of President Weah’s veto against the Hummingbird Agreement,” Rep. Gleekia said.
“Last year, both Houses approved the agreement and sent it to the President for passage, but was vetoed and then, few months later, he sent the it back for passage. And then we did approve it without due diligence of dissecting the document,” he said.
Rep. Gleekia’s disappointment is in agreement with Margibi Senator Oscar Cooper, Nimba Senator Prince Y. Johnson, and Senators Sando D. Johnson and J. Gbleh-bo Brown of Bomi and Maryland, respectively. They all walked out of session, and refused to vote on the bill on February 28, arguing that the bill was not also given due diligence.
The Hummingbird Mineral Development agreement was previously ratified by the House of Representatives and Senate in June 2018, while President Weah vetoed it from the Senate to ratify the agreement in July 2018 on grounds that it equired an adjustment in two parts to bring a protracted benefit with mutual balance for each of the comparing parties.
According to the agreement, it will yield US$250 million in direct investment to the country. It will also see development of the largest gold mine in the southeast of the country as the first major direct investment secured by the Weah’s administration.
History of Hummingbird Gold Pitch
In July 2015, a US$100 million gold mining agreement with Hummingbird Resources (HUM) for mining operations in Sinoe County was signed between GoL and the Company, but with the modification of the Bill and the addition of Maryland, Grand Kru and River Gee counties, there is yet to be known whether the worth of the signature of the Agreement, signed and granted as well as the mining license will remain the same.
In the previous agreement, as of July 2015 and 2016, respectively, when it was submitted to the Senate, the company was to pay the government US$1.5 million signature fee once the agreement was ratified by the Legislature, and another US$1.5 million on the granting of the mining license.
Hummingbird on annual basis commencing on the first anniversary of the effective date of the agreement will contribute an amount to the Social Development Fund (SDF) for the affected communities, which means those areas in which the company will do its mining, should enjoy some financial benefits. The SDF during years one and two, will amount to US$100,000; years three and four, US$150,000; years five to 10, US$200,000; and years 11 onward, US$250,000 throughout the 25-year period.
The company will also pay all other taxes and duties. In keeping with GoL’s economic recovery plan, Hummingbird will give first priority to qualified Liberians for employment, help improve workers and community education and health and give preference to Liberian suppliers in terms of procurement.