Cllr. Tweh said the LCC in partnership with the Ministry of Labor, 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,” he assured. The new LCC President was speaking on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at the inaugural luncheon held at the LCC Office in Monrovia. The colorful ceremony was graced by several dignitaries and the business community.
Cllr. Tweh recounted that the LCC, being the oldest and most representative institution, is dedicated towards aiding the creation of enabling and conducive environment in Liberia for commerce and industry, trade and investment in the country. Interestingly, the LCC represents the diverse private sector, which comprises of over 300 companies and business associations. He recalled that 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. He said the new leadership of the LCC has decided to reactivate these formal luncheon programs.
“Your presence here today reminds me how important the chamber of commerce is in the Liberian business community and the international community. As a primary representative of employers and business community as well, its role is to organize events that create a platform for investors of private sector to meet policymakers in government, planning issues and propose them that will yield a win-win situation for all,” he, among other things, added. Also speaking, the Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Molewuleh B.Gray, said the government is exerting all efforts to resuscitate mining projects that are currently dormant with the hopes of seizing on the new improvements in the prices of primary commodities on the global market, particularly gold and Iron ore.
Mr. Gray, quoting the African Development Bank (AfDB), pointed out that in 2021, real GDP growth is forecast to rebound to 2.8% due to increased demand for Liberia’s key exports of iron ore, gold, diamond, and rubber—assuming major importing countries in Europe and Asia cope with the COVID–19 pandemic. “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 179 USD and projected to grow up to $200 USD by the 1st quarter of next year,” the NIC boss disclosed.
According to him, the profitability of a mining project is dependent on commodity prices and production costs, stating, “generally, production costs increase throughout the life of the mine as more efforts are 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 particular focus on downstream opportunities created by mining operations. “The intent is to identify these opportunities and to package same based on 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,” he asserted.
He then called on the LCC and its members to prepare themselves when operations at these mines take off, saying the Liberia Chamber of Commerce can take charge of the Suppliers Development Program. The head of the NIC indicated that LCC must work with the Commission to ensure that domestic businesses supply the procurement needs of mines without exception, averring 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 to providing financing for domestic business to be able to take advantage of opportunities created by mining operations in the country.
He mentioned that 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. For his part, the Lebanese Ambassador to Liberia, Henri Kastoum, called for strong support to the Liberia Chambers of Commerce, particularly the new leadership. “We are needed because we consider the Liberia Chamber of Commerce as 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.