The Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), Axel M. Addy, says the ministry has made some progress since its rebranding, including the awarding of US$43 million dollars in contracts to 457 Liberian owned businesses. He said it was the ministry’s commitment to develop good policies for trade, support and revitalize the country’s economy as well as open the private sector to create opportunities for citizens.
Minister Addy made the disclosure yesterday during an official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the Liberian Business Association (LIBA) to help Liberian-owned businesses grow through awarding of procurement contracts. He said the MOU will promote Liberian owned businesses nationwide and build their capacity. “It’s also an advantage of their rights as citizens to benefit from the public procurement program given to them by an act of the government,” he said. Min. Addy said despite the challenges of limited resources, the ministry remains committed to pursue objectives that would promote Liberian-owned businesses. He said the Commercial Court supports the ministry as they strive to pursue reforms to transform the business climate in Liberia.
“In pursuit of the Small Business Empowerment Act, all branches of government awarded in the first fiscal year of 2015/2016 US$43 million dollars in contracts to 457 Liberian-owned businesses in pursuit of the 25 percent procurement requirement in keeping with SBE Act,” Minister Addy told reporters. He said the ministry remains committed to contribute to Liberia’s transformation by engaging numerous stakeholders to pursue its objectives, adding that his team has been working on their transitional plan with a commitment to support a soft landing and smooth transition of the leadership after the October 10 polls.
In April of 2013, Minister Addy said, “We decided on the rebranding of the commerce strategy as our tool to serve our country with a commitment to develop good policies for trade, support and revitalize the economy and open the private sector to create work opportunities for citizens.” According to him, despite the challenges, the team has achieved many milestones in pursuit of this agenda, including the stimulation of an entrepreneurial culture through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the annual MSME conferences.
He said in pursuit of the implementation of the industrial policy for job creation through the promotion of manufacturing, the ministry has commenced some works on the Monrovia Industrial Park to bring online new factories to encourage local production and import substitution while putting forth new legislation on the establishment of a Special Economic Zone Authority, which will replace the Free Zone Authority and promote production for domestic and foreign consumption as a means of diversifying the export basket from the traditional products to more value-added commodities to earn much-needed foreign exchange. The ministry, he said, has initiated several key reform projects that will further transform the fabric of the business climate, no matter how difficult and challenging they may be.
Minister Addy said “If we can have taxpayers pay their taxes using mobile money, and tourists arriving at the country’s airport and receiving visas on arrival, then they will know that Liberians are on the right path to have a more attractive and competitive environment for investors.” According to Minister Addy, this high level of cooperation has led to reforms being put in place by the leadership at the ministry, and called on everyone to continue the exchange with the ministry to keep improving the business climate. “We were only able to realize this outstanding achievement with the strong partnership with the PPCC, particularly its dynamic head, James Dorbor Jallah, and his team of talented technicians. The ministry is poised to doing more for the private sector,” he said.
LIBA President David K. Sembeh said the MOU will assist in the process of capacity building, training Liberians and others who want to do business, but do not understand how to start. He described the initiative as timely that will help to decentralize business activities and ensure that Liberian business people gain more access to the economy, pointing out that the initiative will create more jobs and will also help in the process of strengthening the country’s economy through private sector development.