Commerce Ministry Lets Out Major Policy Decisions To Revamp Economy

L-R- Deputy Wisner, Prof. Tarpeh, Deputy, Wolo and Inspector Gen. Davies
L-R- Deputy Wisner, Prof. Tarpeh, Deputy, Wolo and Inspector Gen. Davies
Photo Credit: Public Affairs

Monday, July 1, 2019: As part of ongoing efforts to revamp the declining Liberian economy, the Government, through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has announced a number of measures aimed at improving the Liberian economy.


It can be recalled that on Monday, July 1, 2019, Commerce and Industry Minister, Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh, told the public during a major press conference at the Ministry that the Liberian Government, under the dynamic leadership of President George Manneh Weah, is determined to revert the bad shape of the Liberian economy through a number of proactive policy actions.


The new policy measures include a new Administrative Regulation, regarding the use of Liberian Dollars within the entire Republic of Liberia as of August 1, 2019 and a decision by the Liberian Government to replace the Import Permit Declaration (IPDs) with the Import Notification Form (INF). The IPD Regime came into being in   1986 until its removal on April 10, 2019, through Executive Order Number 96. “This Government has realized that the vast majority of its citizens are being paid in Liberian Dollars, and yet that some businesses transact only in United States Dollars. This is creating serious commercial challenge for many Liberians.” Minister Tarpeh said. The new Administrative Regulation, arrived at following series of engagements with the business community for over a year   strongly mandates all Businesses operating in Liberia to carry on all commercial transactions in both Liberian and United States Dollars as legal tenders.


“This is only an application of the existing law. Part V, Section 19(1) of the Banking Law, Title 6, provides that the “monetary unit of Liberia shall be the Liberian Dollar, and the Liberian Dollar shall be the currency of Liberia and legal tender. Prices for all transactions in Liberia shall be indicated in Liberian Dollars and Cents. The Liberian Dollar shall be the currency for all accounting, financial reporting and official purposes in Liberia.” Prof Tarpeh indicated.

As a means of ensuring that such major national policy decisions are upheld to the letter, the Liberian Government spoke about the uncompromising imposition of fines against would be violators (business houses and individuals), ranging from LD50,000.00 or its United States Dollars equivalent for first offense, LD100,000.00 for second offense, and suspension or revocation of Business License for any further violation by the same violator. In accordance with the Regulations, the issue of suspension or revocation of said license shall be determined by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.


The Commerce and Industry Minister said the new Administrative Regulation is built around three cardinal reasons. They include promoting wide use of the Liberian Dollar as a medium of exchange in the Republic of Liberia, increasing the value of the Liberian Dollar and ensure its stability as a currency the third reason is to stimulate economic development through free participation by all in the commerce of the country. Initially throwing light on the recently removed IPD regime, Minister Tarpeh said the IPDs were instituted to notify the government of incoming shipments to Liberia, and therefore allowing it to monitor goods for the safety of the consumer.


Professor Tarpeh however noted that In order to ensure the effective administration of the Executive Order, the Government has implemented a simplified, transparent and more efficient system known as the Import Notification Form (INF). He described the Import Notification Form as an administrative document that serves only to notify the Government of any incoming shipments, without the need for approval of importing such goods.


He noted further that Import Notification Form serves two purposes. They include informing   the Government of incoming shipments, so that it is better able to monitor and regulate the current stock of goods in the country; and to simplify and increase the efficiency of the import process in order to facilitate business and reduce consumer prices. “The INF differs from the past IPD system in a number of significant ways. The Liberian Chief Trade Negotiator named the ways as   increasing the efficiency of the importing process, as the form can be filled out online in a matter of minutes, printed out and brought directly to BIVAC for Pre-Shipment Inspection. Speaking further, he said the INF does not require approval by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. “There is no need to go to the Ministry for signature, and as long as the information entered in the INF matches the invoice of the shipment, it cannot be rejected by either BIVAC or the Commerce Ministry.” He added. According to the new measures, submission of an INF is free of charge and delivered instantaneously online. Minister Tarpeh also disclosed that those without access or ability to use a computer can fill in the form   manually at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Customer Service Center, noting that one of the characteristics of the INF is that it does not have expiry date.


He told the gathering that BIVAC however remains the agency that carries out Pre-Shipment Inspection, adding that the INF is required for PSI to be started by BIVAC.  He described the Import Notification Form as a key step in the direction of the Single Window, where clearance of goods will happen on a single portal and will be fully automized.


Professor Tarpeh assured the public that the INF will drastically increase the efficiency of imports, which in turn is expected to lead to reduced prices for the final consumer.
”By taking this first step, and moving towards a speedier, less cumbersome process, this Government is proving that it is putting the interests of the Liberian consumers first, while facilitating doing business in this country.” he stated.


At the same time, Minister Tarpeh reiterated that the CDC led- Government   attaches serious value to the safety of the Liberian people above all else.
“That is why this facilitation of trade tool will be accompanied by a significant reinforcement of the Inspectorate Division. This government will not tolerate any companies endangering the lives of its citizens, and swift action will be taken to safeguard Liberian consumers.” He emphasized.


Before concluding his press statement Monday, July 1, 2019, the Commerce and Industry Minister clarified that Executive Order #96 does not however call for the cancellation of the Export Permit Declaration (EPD).

 

The policy tool is expected to be modernized in the near future after the Import Notification Form (INF) is rolled out, and that for the time being, EPDs are still necessary for any exports, and the process for exporting remains unchanged.

 

Jacob N.B. Parley
Communications Director