THE FREEPORT of Monrovia prides itself as the ‘gateway to Liberia’s economy, sadly, the reality is that the economy is being strangulated right there.
MANY LOCAL businesses are folding up due to exponential increases in fees and other charges at the port.
LAST WEEK, new charges were announced causing a stir in the business community, some of whom have threatened strike action by shutting down their stores until something can be done about the charges at the port.
MEDTECH SCIENTIFIC Company Ltd., a company designated by the Liberian government through the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to conduct Destination Inspection (DI) at the ports, announced the new increment. The increments include US$190 for 20ft container to US$280 and US$280 to US$400 for 40ft container, among others.
THIS ALSO caught the attention of Bomi County Senator Edwin M. Snowe who has indulged his colleagues to investigate the increment.
SEAPORT activity constitutes an important economic activity in terms of development and integration in the world economic market. The seaport is expected to play an important role in the strengthening of economic growth.
THE QUALITY of customs service is low while the customs fees are high, leaving all businesspeople using the port frustrated.
LAS TUESDAY, the chairman of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), Mr. Dominic Nimely, in a press conference called on the government to rescind its decision on the various increment in the cost of services at the port else, they as a business community will protest by shutting down all their businesses.
“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 BIVAC but now I have a container and I’m informed that I have to pay US$450.00 to BIVAC,” Mr. Nimely.
SOME LOCAL businesses have also expressed concern over the possible shortage of rice and other essential commodities due to increments in several fees and cost of services at the Freeport of Monrovia.
THEY MENTIONED, increment in demurrage, increment in APM Terminals charges, increments by the stackers union, truckers union, costs of Container Tracking Number (CTN), BiVAC and MedTech Scientific Ltd have all causing serious constraints for the smooth operation of the business.
ACCORDING TO the local businesses, with the increasing cost of doing business, there is likely to be an increment in the price of some basic and essential commodities.
“RICE FOR EXAMPLE, our fear is that we may soon run out of rice on the market become those bringing it may decide to scale down their importation because the government would not allow them to increase the price of rice. You cannot be running into extra expenses and they still expect you to sell at the same price,” a local entrepreneur who asked for anonymity said.
PRIOR TO THE reduction, the price of 25kg bag of rice was US$16.00. Since February 2018, rice price has been US$13.00.
THE COMPLAINTS coming from our business people are genuine and need urgent attention. The citizens feel the pinch in the end, these extra costs are passed on to them, thereby causing inflation.
SO, WE JOIN the business people to call on the Government of Liberia through the relevant agencies to carefully scrutinize the impact of these increments in the charges of services at the port on the local market and the economy as a whole. We must ensure that the National Port Authority, indeed, remains the ‘Gateway to the Economy’.