Despite the invitation sent out by the controversial Legislators with quizzical performance as the nation enters another orbit of quandary, the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) has drawn the battle line as a clear and radical signal to the government loaded with a traditional habit of generating one pain-stricken problem to another, instead of doing the opposite by finding solutions time after time to self-created hurdles that continually piercing the process of governance, and progress toward the growth and development of the people and state.
While PATEL has clearly and openly stated that it will not engage in protest; a democratically-propelled dimension driven by political stunt in the embodiment of protest massively utilized by the current leadership when it was in the opposition community, mounting severe pressure on its predecessor rather it will order the complete shutdown of all businesses nationwide in total rejection of additional tax imposed by the government through the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).
At the same time, it has been reported that the Legislature, considering the dire consequences such action would inflict on the already suffocating economy coupled with the peace and the availability of goods and services is poised to conduct an in-depth investigation at the Freeport of Monrovia to ascertain development regarding the increased fees reportedly imposed on people doing container business there.
Moreover, the former leader of the Custom Broker Association and a businessman, told a news conference Thursday, August 5, 2021 in Monrovia that what is needed to break the impasse between the business community and the government is dialogue from where the two parties will amicably find a common ground and the way forward.
According to the businessman, the route o protest will not be in the interest of the business community in the midst o vandalism and other odds, wherein, government will not be the loser rather the business community.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia, on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, PATEL’s National Chairman Dominic Nimely said the business people over the weekend received from the LRA additional fees valued over US$1100.00 are unfortunate and will not be accepted by the business community.
According to Nimely, PATEL will shutdown all businesses across the country if the government fails to drop the new fees imposed on businesses which are over US$1100.
PATEL’s Chairman observes that “we have been crying already with BiVAC and now there is an additional US$200.00 increment; we have over US$1000.00 increased to free a container and it’s very high for businesses now; we were paying US$250.00 (to) BIVAC, but now, I have a container and I’m informed that I have to pay US$450.00 to BIVAC,”
Explaining further, Chairman Nimely purported that the government has been mugging the business people for years and still continues to do so.
He said this is causing Liberia to lose revenue to Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and other countries. He said, “If the government can reduce the customs duties in Liberia, the government will raise more money.”
He said it’s only in Liberia that more than 30 persons own a container of goods, which is a due to lack of finances.
He noted that the government through LRA is now asking each importer who has goods to pay US$160.00 for inspection for 20′ container while each importer will pay US$300 for 40′ container excluding US$280 and US$480 stating “it’s unacceptable.”
The Chairman noted that the increment of charges from APM Terminals and the LRA are unbearable for business people, stating that “the government should be reducing duties and giving incentives to businesses and Liberian owned businesses in particular as a way of encouraging people to come because the government is unable to provide jobs for many people now.”
He said the private sector continues to help in providing jobs for many people in Liberia, but it’s on the opposite which the government is now suffocating business people.
Nimely said, this is a result of lack of access to finance by business people. With this, the government needs to be helping the business people and not harming them by increasing fees.
According to him, PATEL is asking the government to revoke the new list of charges released as the business community will not protest but shutdown businesses.
The Chairman lamented that “We will allow the government to bring in businesses that they can run because it is a death trap. We cannot operate under such an atmosphere; we don’t know where such judgment came out and from whom. This is intended to kill the business people, because we are already crying on APM Terminals, GTMS, and LRA where they just look in the air and charge businesses,” Mr. Nimely said.
He pointed out that it is unfortunate today in Liberia that someone will buy a car for US$1500 and then pay some US$2500 to ship it and the Liberian Government charges that individual US$2500, which is causing a lot of obstacles to do business in Liberia.
However, it was reported by a local daily that the Liberia Revenue Authority said, “In keeping with requirements of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO-TFA), the Government of Liberia, through the Liberia Revenue Authority, has concluded a Destination Inspection (DI) Contract with MedTech Scientific (MTS).”
LRA said the public is, therefore, informed that beginning August 1, 2021, Pre-shipment Inspection (PSI) is officially abolished in Liberia, and Destination Inspection (DI) shall officially commence.
“All goods intended to be shipped to Liberia will be inspected only once in Liberia by MTS, Customs and any other interested parties with a defined statutory role linked to inspection,” the LRA stated.
According to LRA, non-intrusive inspection (cargo scanning) will be introduced at customs ports of entry for greater efficiency in goods clearance.
The statement said a new intrusive inspection (physical inspection) facility will be built to accommodate simultaneous inspection of multiple shipments at customs ports of entry.
“For the sake of small Liberian businesses, a de-consolidation facility will be built to facilitate the separation of single shipments by multiple owners,” LRA said.
LRA further said beginning August 1, 2021 the old fee structure by BIVAC, which was a percentage of the value of goods (ad-valorem), will be abolished.
The statement said also, beginning August 1, 2021, a flat fee structure as per the attached
Schedule of Fees for DI services shall be introduced and paid to MTS at the designated account with ECO-Bank (Liberia) Ltd.
“All services by the DI contractor shall be performed with Customs counterparts for capacity building; and Customs will assume full responsibility for all destination inspection services at the end of the current contract,” the statement said.
LRA said the public is further informed that there will be a transition period of up to four months during which time backlogs and other technical handovers will be completed between BIVAC and MTS.
Before the end of the transition period, the new DI business process will be introduced and communicated to the public.
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