Economic growth and development depend essentially on a country’s ability to invest and make efficient and productive use of its resources. In this regard, the role of the private sector is important, both in terms of its contribution to the quantity of gross domestic income (GDI) and its ability to allocate and employ resources efficiently.
Private investments like ArcelorMittal, as proxy for a dynamic private sector, serve as engines for job and income creation, and play a key role in the provision of infrastructural and social services.
In countries like Liberia where there is the lack of investment, production and income to stimulate demand, there cannot be growth without some form of foreign direct investment of sufficient amount to deliver quality and good paying jobs.
In fact, investments like the one offered in ArcelorMittal’s phase two expansion and its 3rd mineral development agreement, in which the company promises to spend up to US$1.2 billion are both a result and cause of economic growth in Liberia.
Already, Liberia is faced with this critical challenge of ensuring the necessary internal conditions for mobilizing enough domestic savings to sustain adequate levels of investment in productive and human capacities.
The largest foreign investor in Liberia, ArcelorMittal Liberia, has capitalized over $1.7 billion in Liberia over the past 15 years.
More than 3,000 jobs are currently created in the construction phase of this expansion drive, with Liberians filling most of the roles created.
For three years running, ArcelorMittal is named the highest contributor of revenue to the budget, far more than any other private and public-sector entity could do.
Of the total amount collected in national tax revenue from the mining sector of Liberia, four companies, ArcelorMittal Liberia, Bea Mountain, MNG Gold, and Hummingbird Resources, accounted for US$41,726,305 or 92.2% of total sector revenues.
It is no secret that over last 16 years ArcelorMittal’s investment has helped reduce the disparity between revenue and cost of goods and services and helped the government cater to social development challenged in health, education and infrastructure.
ArcelorMittal operates a vocational training center that provides residential certificate training in mechanical and electrical trades for young Liberians, and has already launched a training and development program for high potential Liberian employees who will gain on-the-job experience and knowledge in ArcelorMittal’s mining operations globally.
Therefore, the company has been concerned about the recent industrial action at AML’s facilities in Yekepa, Nimba County and in Buchanan, Grand Bassa county.
But with reports of a meeting held on Wednesday in Yekepa, where members of the ArcelorMittal Liberia workers’ union were advised by the government’s representatives to end their illegal strike and, rather, present a grievance statement to the government and give two weeks to allow them (government) respond, it is wise to note that peace at such a key concession is for the good of the entire country.
Without industrial peace and harmony at ArcelorMittal and other places the government cannot achieve its promise of jobs to lift people out of poverty, as stated in its “Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PADP)”.