Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia Threaten to Shut Down All Business Due to New Imposed Charges at Freeport of Monrovia

MONROVIA – The Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), has threatened to shut down all businesses across the country if the government fails to drop the new fees imposed on businesses which are over US$1100

The National Chairman of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia, Dominic Nimely, made the disclosure on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, at a news conference in Monrovia, while frowning on the government’s decision to impose new fees on businesses.

Mr. Nimely said over the weekend, the business people received from the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) additional fees valued a little over US$1100.00 as additional fees which are unfortunate and will not be accepted by the business community.

“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.

According to Mr. Nimely, it’s only in Liberia that more than 30 persons own a container of goods, which is a due to lack of finances.

Mr. Nimely said 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 be paid US$300 for 40′ container excluding US$280 and US$480 stating “it’s unacceptable.”

Mr. Nimely said the increment of charges from APM Terminals and the LRA are unbearable for business people, stating “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.

“Again, 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,” Mr. Nimely told reporters.

Mr. Nimely said PATEL is asking the government to revoke the new list of charges released as the business community will not protest but shut down businesses.

“We will allow the government to bring in businesses that they can run because it a death trap. We cannot operate under such an atmosphere. We don’t know what such judgment came out and from whom. This is intended to kill us, 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. 

Mr. Nimely said it’s unfortunate that today in Liberia, someone will buy a car for US$1500 and you pay about US$2500 to ship it and the Liberian government charges you US$2500, which is causing a lot of hindrances to do business in Liberia.

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.”  

Mr. Nimely alleged that the government has been robbing the business people for years and still continues to do so.

Meanwhile, 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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