30 April Press Brief

Monday, 30th April 2007

Members of the Press:

I like to welcome you all to this briefing:

The past week has been relatively filled with good news for Liberia and its people, and I like to take my queue from that to begin this briefing. Before then, however, let me inform you that the President, is in the Guinean capital Conakry, attending a meeting today of Mano River Union member countries. At the Conakry meeting, which is being chaired by President Johnson Sirleaf, the leaders will be looking at development issues within member countries, now that the focus is being shifted from conflict, but more importantly, the leaders will be reviewing a Technical Committee report relating to a land dispute between Guinea and Sierra Leone, involving an area in Lelieman, Yenga, near the Sierra Leonean/Guinean border.

As you all may know by now, the Senate over the weekend ratified the Mittal Steel Agreement, thus paving the way for operations to begin at the Mining Company.
We want to laud the legislators for acting in the national interest. With the passage of the act for Mittal steel to begin operations in the country, expectations are expectedly high among our people for employment; let me, however, caution that the passage of the act is not an automatic guarantee for jobs immediately. It is, nevertheless, a good beginning in the Presidentís drive to attract more investment opportunities to the country. The Mittal Steel deal will surely provide employment opportunities for our people, but will take a little while to absorb some of the high demand for employment.

Another good news over the weekend was the lifting by the United Nations of the ban on the diamond industry in Liberia.  The President views the lifting on the ban as a further manifestation of the confidence the International Community continues to impose in the leadership of the country and its ability to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration to manage the countryís resources for the benefit of the people. The decision, we believe, will also open more income generating avenues for government and create additional employment opportunities for our people.

Our thanks and appreciation to all, including our international partners, who worked tirelessly to ensure the lifting of the ban.

As part of the Kimberley Process Certification scheme, the President will Tuesday participate in the dedication of the government diamond office in Tubmanburg, Bomi County and Monrovia respectively. The Program is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy.

Finally, we want on behalf of the President, to congratulate members of the Press, particularly the Press Union of Liberia, on the observance this week, of World Press Freedom Day.
We appreciate the continuing partnership between our office and the Press Union of Liberia, in particular and the media community at large. We want to assure the Union and members of the press that our office remains opened regarding the free flow of information relating to the Office of the President, as government endeavors to create the enabling environment to facilitate your job.

I thank you.