NGC slams faulty mining agreements

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-says gov’t not serious about managing natural resources

January 8, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

NGC
NGC running mate Andrew K. Keili

Vice Presidential candidate of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) have slammed major mining agreements ratified by lawmakers during the last sitting of the House before its official dissolution by President Ernest Bai Koroma on 7 December, 2017.

Large scale iron license agreement between the government and a firm called SL Mining Limited and a contract agreement between the government and SierraMin Bauxite (SL) Limited for bauxite mineral prospecting and mining in Port Loko were hastily approved by the outgone lawmakers.

There was hardly any debate by lawmakers as had been the case with other agreements in the past, but rather the agreements was just read out by the Clerk of Parliament prior to parliamentarians giving their consented.

According to Engineer Andrew Keili, each of the agreements could have huge and adverse economic implications for the development of the country and the future of the young generation.

He told a presser at the party’s head office on Wilkinson Road in Freetown last Thursday that there should have been a tripartite engagement between the government, companies and communities where mining is expected to take place so as to ascertain the content of the documents as well as what they stand to benefit before taking it to parliament for approval.

He said the fact that such agreements were rushed through parliament clearly depicts that government was not serious about the management of the country’s national resources.

“On the last day of parliament, the government rushed through three major agreements with no debate. With a normal mining agreement, things are supposed to be standard with only a few things to be ratified, including social inputs,” he said.

Mr. Keili blamed lawmakers from the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) for ratifying the controversial deal without raising any alarm or calling for it to be debated before approval.

He said the NGC considered the SLPP to have aided and abetted as well as being complicit in the passing the agreements.

The seasoned engineer-cum-politician claimed that there have been several instances over the past years wherein agreements have been rushed to parliament by way of ‘emergency certificate’ which has cost the country a lot of money.

He opined that the mining agreements were deliberately and clandestinely negotiated and signed by the government to benefit a few highly placed individuals in collaboration with foreign nationals, with the sole objective of continuing selfish exploitation of national resources.

“Owners of these beneficial corporations should not hide behind the carpet. We should know them for the purpose of transparency of our minerals,” he maintained.

The NGC vice presidential candidate called on international donor and diplomatic community, among others, to urge the government to come out clean and explain the justification for those secret agreements, as well as disclosing the beneficiaries.