Liberia: House Subjects APM Terminals Agreement to Review, Mandates Company to Reverse Latest Increase in Tariff
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – At long last, the House of Representatives has voted in favor of a comprehensive review of the contractual agreement between the Government of Liberia and APM Terminals.
The House also mandated APM Terminals to reverse its decision to increase additional tariff on all of its services rendered at the port and revert to the original charges.
The House took the decision on Tuesday following a sustained grilling of the top managements of APM Terminals and the National Port Authority (NPA) by Plenary.
It comes following the advice of the Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Bill Tweahway that the APM Terminals’ agreement was a bad deal and should be amended by the Legislature.
“The first thing I will tell you [members of the House] is that the APM Terminal agreement is a bad agreement. It is very bad and is not in the interest of our country,” he said while addressing Plenary.
“It needs amendment and it needs re-visitation. You have the authority to amend any law in this country. And this law, for me is the worst law to be crafted in Liberia. It needs serious visitation.”
Last week, the plenary summoned key players of Liberia’s shipping industry including the managements of APM Terminals, National Port Authority (NPA), Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and major shipping lines to state reasons behind the unprecedented rise of service fees, especially clearing of containers at the Free port of Monrovia.
Testifying under oath, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Acting Managing Director of APM Terminals, Kalid E.L. Laiii admitted that the company increased its tariff for 2021 in line with the concession agreement, but the money generated will be used towards the payment of loan in the tune of US$30 million.
He said despite the company’s right to increase tariff every year, over the last five year, the company only increased tariff twice.
His revelation angered the lawmakers across the floor. They accused the company of exploiting the government and its people as well as foreign investors. They argued that in the midst of a deadly pandemic, the company acted unfairly to impose additional tariff just to settle its debt.
Plenary then voted in favor of a motion proffered by Rep. Samuel Kogar, that the House should communicate with the Executive to conduct a complete audit of the concession agreement for possible amendment.
The motion also mandated the NPA and APM Terminal management to reappear this Thursday for more cross examinations. APM Terminals was also mandated to come along with copies of the company’s audited financial reports since it began operation, its copy of the Concession Agreement and the Marine Services Agreement.
The AMP Terminals has come under severe criticism following its latest increase of service fees. The decision to invite the company’s management came on the back of a report of its specialized committee set up to investigate APM Terminals’ operations in Liberia.
Presenting the highly anticipated report which include a comparative analysis of APM Terminals’ operations in Liberia and that of Ghana, the Chairman of the Committee, Representative Clarence Massaquoi (District #3, Lofa County), said unlike in Liberia where APM Terminal has a 100 percent ownership right, APM Ghana has 70 percent share, while the Ghanaians are awarded 30 percent, which give them stake in the management of the company. The committee said there is no clause in the agreement that gives APM Terminals the sole right to increase tariffs as was done in the Liberia’s contract.