Vice President Boakai Lauds Indonesian Company

Thursday, 7th January 2010
Monrovia, Liberia - Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakai says the US$1.6 billion investment by GoldenVeroleum, a member of the Singapore listed Golden Agri Resources company, will help the Unity party-led government provide the needed employment opportunities in southeastern Liberia.

Golden Agri Resources is the largest palm oil operator in Indonesia and second largest in the world - it also has operations in China. It belongs the Sinar Mas, one of the leading business groups in Indonesia, with major assets in pulp and paper, palm oil, property and telecoms.
Vice President Boakai observed that the southeast has attractive investment opportunities and prospects and that the Veroleum investment is going to be very positive for Liberia.

Vice President Boakai made the observation on Tuesday, January 5, when a  delegation from GoldenVeroleum called on him at his Capitol Building office to brief him about their plan to invest US$1.6 billion in Liberia’s oil palm industry.

“Employment and job creation have been difficult in the southeast; so we are very keen on this investment. You have our full support,” Vice President Boakai assured the Veroleum officials. “Despite all problems we are confronted with, we are definitely committed to addressing the critical challenges in the South East,” he added.

Briefing Vice President Boakai earlier, the head of the delegation, Mr. Matt Karinen said his company’s vision in Liberia is to cultivate over 240,000 hectares of oil palm in Grand Kru, Sinoe and Maryland Counties, (including 40,000 hectares via outgrowers) hoping to produce more than one million tons of palm oil per annum.
He said the company will provide direct employment for an estimated 40,000 persons, as well as develop infrastructure, train out growers and provide them low cost seedlings for cultivation and producing the final brand of consumer products for local consumption and export to ECOWAS countries.

“The investment will also fully follow the Government’s environmental master plan and standards,” Mr. Karinen assured Vice President Boakai.

He disclosed that Veroleum will wish to work through rehabilitated ports of Greenville and Harper for export of oil palm products and import needed materials.
Mr. Karinen expressed optimism that Veroleum and other palm oil producing companies like Equatorial Palm Oil and Sime Darby can transform Liberia into one of the major producers of palm oil in the world, meeting domestic needs and for export.

Mr. Karinen and his colleague Mr David Rothschild who are currently holding discussions with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, National Investment Commission and other relevant agencies, expressed optimism that the company would begin operations in six months, and hoped the legislature would speed up ratification of the concession agreement.

The Veroleum official disclosed that his company would forge a symbiotic relationship with small farmers otherwise known as out growers, training them, supplying them low cost seeds and other materials and integrating them in farm cooperatives and providing them loans.

Mr. Karinen challenged the Liberian government to take advantage of the country’s rich soil and ideal climate to transform the lives of its citizens as has been the case in Indonesia and Malaysia.

In remarks during the meeting, Mr. Rothschild said he was impressed with the transformation taking place in post-war Liberia, noting that he has seen considerable increase in building and in commercial ventures in the capital since he started coming to the country about fifteen months ago.