EDITORIAL: Government of Liberia, Please Take Heed From the Liberia Chamber of Commerce Warning on Cargo Tracking Note
THE LIBERIA CHAMBER of Commerce’s call on the government of President George Manneh Weah Liberia Chamber of Commerce to avoid the trappings of the National Port Authority’s decision on a new cargo tracking regime should not be taken lightly.
RECENTLY, THE National Port Authority (NPA) has signed a container tracking deal with Global Tracking and Maritime Solutions, Liberia – a company chased out of Sierra Leone for allegedly defrauding the Sierra Leonean government over US$11 million. Based on the agreement, GMT Solutions would be tracking all containers coming to and passing through all sea ports in the country at an additional fee of US$175.00.
IN JANUARY, THE NPA announced a new Advance Cargo Declaration (CTN/ACD) system would kick off for all shipments to any destination port including transit through Liberia shippers/exporters/forwarders at the various ports of loading around the world. “You are hereby required to obtain a validated CTN number using the online platform and submit the required shipping documents on www.ctn-gtms.com. Each Bill of Laden must be covered by a valid unique CTN number which will also be inserted on the Cargo manifest. Shipments not covered by a valid CTN number will not be unloaded and fines may apply to the carrier or shipping agent in connection to the shipment.
THE LCC which represents all businesses and Trade Union Organizations in Liberia, to include the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), PATEL, Fula Business Association (FBA), World Lebanese Culture Union, Indian Business Association, Customs Brokers Association, etc, believe that the NPA is treading dangerous waters with its decision to implement the controversial CTN policy.
THE PLAN, IF it is allowed to hold, the LCC says, would not only bring on additional financial burden to businesses and consumers, but also lead to duplicating requirements that are already being complied to by the importers of cargos into the country through the Bureau Inspection Valuation Assessment Control (BIVAC).
FURTHERMORE, it would make shipping to Liberia more expensive for suppliers outside of Liberia.
WE AGREE WITH the LCC that the new requirement adds no value to export and import in Liberia and is simply just another money-making scheme to allow a company with a shady record to fill their pockets from importers and exporters’ own information generated during their purchases and sales internationally.
THE EXTRA TRACKING service lacks transparency and offers to system of accountability or a clear indication on how much the fees per container is likely to be.
IRONICALLY, THE GTMS, in its own presentation at the LCC indicated it would charge up to 120 Euros per container, whilst Suppliers have stated that they are being charged up to 480 Euros per container.
THE FEB. 1, 2019 START of the process is already passed and many businesses are already complaining. Some, if not all are contemplating refusing to ship pending cargos until the issue can be sorted out.
IT DOES NOT TAKE a rocket scientist to figure out what this means for the business climate in Liberia, already shaken by the rapidly declining economic outlook.
IT IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME when consumers begin, if they aren’t already, feeling the pinch of this ill-advised decision likely to benefit a few.
WHAT PLANS are in store to ensure that supermarket and store shelves are stoked when the current commodities on the market have been consumed or run out? What is government doing to brace an edgy nation for the scarcity likely to be created as a result of this process with seemingly no plan in place to bring in new imports to replace them.
WE FIND IT TROUBLING that the National Port Authority has ignored all the writings on the wall regarding this extra tracking system that is poised to heap more hardship on the Liberian people.
LIBERIA’S NEXT-DOOR neighbors, Sierra Leone, saw the writings on the wall long ago and took steps put the problem in its track.
TODAY, Anti-Corruption body in Sierra Leone is on record for booking GTMS, with documents showing that the company defrauded the Sierra Leonean government of millions of dollars for which the CEO had to be imprisoned and banned from travelling.
WHAT MORE proof does the NPA and the government need that it hasn’t seen already.
EVEN MORE TROUBLING is the fact that the controversial new service is a duplicate of the BIVAC process where businesses are required to apply and pay 1.2% of total shipment value or a minimum of $190.00 and send copy of Import Declaration Permit (IPD) along with BIVAC inspection number to supplier.
NOW, BUSINESSES are being demanded to pay US$175 more just to fill someone’s pockets.
THIS IS UNFAIR and spells troubling times for Liberia and in particularly, the business community. The sooner authorities can