Monrovia - In the wake of mounting speculations regarding a second protest by the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) planned for April 10, 2017, Representative Samuel Korgar (NUDP- Nimba County), who also chairs the House Commerce Committee has called for patience pending the intervention of lawmakers.
Speaking with reporters Thursday, Rep. Korgar explained that his committee, in the aftermath of the first protest by the marketers, held two Public hearings with stakeholders including the ministries of Finance, Liberia Revenue Authority, Commerce as well as the municipal government as he promised that efforts are being made to solve the issue.
Explained Rep. Korgar: “The Executive sent a proposal of a bill to revise the tax code, we are looking into that."
"You may be aware that this tax code was captured in the 2016/2017 budget."
"If we are to revert to the status quo we need to identify a new revenue line to avoid government employees going on strike. These are the things we are working.”
“We heard the group is resolved with their plans to shut down businesses in Liberia. We think that action is unpatriotic which undermines the stability of peace and threatens to run potential investors from Liberia.”
In a statement this week, the PATEL leadership informed the public and its members that all businesses under the banner its banner, including but not limited to members of the Liberian Business Association, Custom Brokers Union, Truckers Union, used car dealer association, and the National Petty Trader Association amongst others will be closed until issues affecting the business community can be addressed by the government.
The statement said commercial districts throughout the country including Red Light, Duala, Ganta, Bong Water amongst others will be closed beginning Monday, April 10, 2017 until President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf can speak and take action in addressing the plight of the business community.
Among many issues, PATEL is claiming that the continuous hiking of the US dollars against the Liberian dollar, high tariff placed on goods being imported by Liberian businesses and the taking of yana-boys, petty traders goods by the city police as well as reports that the Liberian National Police without any redress as among the many challenges affecting its members.
The group also named high Municipal tax and garbage collection fees, request for exclusive rights for Liberian retailers as problems as it requested Commerce Minister Axel Addy to open import permit declaration to all Liberians for rice, sugar, flour, frozen foods.
“The entire sector will remain closed until the President of the Republic of Liberia can speak and take action in addressing the plight of the business community.”
Marketers, petty traders and local business entrepreneurs in Monrovia have been frowning on the repeated strangulation of their businesses with high tariffs on containers, high taxes and rapid depreciation of the Liberian dollar.
Businesses in Liberia, especially the SMEs are feeling the pinch of the error in the law resulting to rising taxes.
The new law, according to President Sirleaf, is to conform to the Economic Community of West Africans States (ECOWAS) regulations on customs.
President Sirleaf admitted that an error in the new tax law is responsible for an increase in taxes, thus becoming a burden especially on small and medium enterprises.
On January 1, 2015 the new regional Common External Tariff (CET) became operational for all ECOWAS member states.
The Common External Tariff is one of the instruments of harmonizing ECOWAS Member States and strengthening its Common Market.
Article 3 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty defines the aims of the community as promoting “cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa.