Ministries of Public Works and Finance Seek Lawmakers Intervention in US$30M Blocking
Monrovia – The Ministries of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and Public Works (MPW) are requesting the Legislature to undo what they (MFDP, MPW) failed to do procedurally correct when they levied a charge of US$0.25 on every gallon of petroleum products brought into the country.
Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected]
In separate communications, the two line Ministries are requesting the Legislature’s intervention in unblocking the national fund and allow it to function. On December 12, 2016, the Legislature passed the law establishing a National Road Fund.
Among other things, the law authorizes the inter-ministerial steering committee to raise monies for the fund through road user charges which were subject to legislative approval, a procedure the inter-ministerial steering committee failed to follow.
In one of the communications, Public Works Ministry acknowledged that there was a procedural lapse, that the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee (IMSC) should have formally sought approval for the US$0.25 levy.
According to the Public Works Ministry, the levy had previously been arrived at through consultation with private and public-sector stakeholders.
“It was agreed that of the US$0.50 previously collected as storage fee by LPRC, US$0.25 would be set aside as a road user charge.
“Based on these projections, the National Legislature passed a budget anticipating US$30 million as a contribution from the fund to the budget.
This was also important as part of our treaty obligation under the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) signed between the government of Liberia and the MCC of the US Government.”
On attempting to collect the charges and levy from the importers, one of the importers — Srimex — sought to stay on the action from the Supreme Court, arguing that the IMSC was acting in contravention of the law.
As a result of Srimex’s challenge, the Justice-in-Chamber stayed the action of government, pending a hearing.
While they await the hearing, early this month Aminata, another importer, has challenged the levy again.
“I am therefore requesting a communication from you (legislature) and Speaker that would resolve the legal question around the fund and make it functional.
It will allow us to complete our negotiation with the World Bank for the private sector to invest up to US$200 million in our road sector and bring much needed relief to our people.
It will also allow the MCC to match our road fund to the US$15 million as part of the Compact.
This action would allow us remove the stay order and make the National Road Fund functional and viable.