Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe has refuted media reports that the Sime Darby Oil Palm Plantation is attempting to shut down its operations in the country.
Nagbe, who spoke in an interview with state radio ELBC on Wednesday, said that the Oil Palm Company is not selling its investment in Liberia and has no intent of pulling out of the country.
Recently, a local daily reported that Sime Darby Liberia is looking to sell out its investment and leave the country due to ‘troubling economic conditions.’
According to the report, the company is, among other things, selling out because it is finding it difficult to have access to free land to expand its operations.
“With just 10,500 hectares planted and palm oil processing mill constructed, the company will find it very difficult to remain in business,” the report stated.
But Nagbe described the report as a “complete sham and fake news.”
The Information Minister stressed that it is unfortunate that some media practitioners will publish stories on such critical issues without making research and conducting proper investigation, adding that, “It is unprofessional for media practitioners to make such false allegations.”
Nagbe also urged journalists in the country to stop “negative castigation of positive national issues,” admonishing them to “do thorough research, investigation and verification on matters before publishing.”
According to Nagbe, before the ascendency of President George Manneh Weah, there have been concerns by concession companies of locals refusing to grant them (concession) access to land, something which, he said, has been hampering the growth and development of concessions and the government as a whole.
Nagbe stated that the government of Liberia has played a role of intermediary and has intervened into the matter through the Ministry of Internal Affairs so that the people of Gbapolu, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi counties make available more land to be used by concessionaires.