Businesses in Margibi and Grand Bassa counties have highlighted several challenges facing them, including foreign exchange rate, prices on goods, as well as wholesalers involved in retailing, among others.
The business community made the disclosure on Thursday and Friday during an ongoing county tour by Axel M. Addy, Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), accompanied by his deputy ministers and inspectors, including Frantz C. Sawyer, Deputy Minister for Administration; Stephen Marvie, Deputy Minister for Trade; Andrew Paygar, Deputy Minister for SBA.
“As we speak, we are not benefiting or getting profits any longer, because of the huge payment of taxes; wholesalers in the rural areas engaging in retailing; and the continued soaring of foreign exchange rate,” business people in both counties during the engagements told the commerce authorities.
However, the business people called on the commerce authorities to ensure that goods are sold only in Liberian dollars, which will help to address some of the challenges encountered in the rural areas, including buying in US Dollars in order to get a particular commodity like cement, as well as paying taxes.
In response, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel M. Addy, said Liberia’s economy is struggling currently, because the country is not exporting much immediately, especially those commodities that were in return earning United States dollars for Liberia.
The MOCI’s team, headed by Minister Addy also visited several businesses in the two counties respectively, including Fabrar Liberia Incorporated in Kakata, Liberia-Japan Heavy Equipment Training Institute in Kakata, National port Authority in Buchanan, Hotel Buchanan among others.
He urged the business community to engage in farming activities, which will address some of the problems facing the country, adding that “Let’s begin to produce what we eat as a country and gradually, we will even start to export some to other parts of the world.”
He added, “Our farmers are doing well for us and hope that we can join them to produce more food in order to reduce importation of most of the country’s food,” Minister Addy told the business people.
He said his ministry will continue to promote businesses throughout the country, ensuring that the business categories set aside for Liberians are protected.
“We are no longer exporting rubber, timber and iron ore like we did in the past, because of the reduction of its prices on the world market. This is hampering the economy of Liberia, including the drawdown of the United Nations peace keepers. We are not receiving the United States dollars,” Minister Addy told business people.
He explained that his ministry is working with all line ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to handle some of the problems facing the country as the Ministry of Commerce cannot address all alone.
“We want to also inform you that the Central Bank of Liberia is working hard to address forex exchange rate problem,” he added, “but again, we are aware of some of these challenges been in the rural areas.”
The Commerce Ministry county tour is part of Minister Addy’s management strategy to ascertain those things that the ministry can improve on in order to enhance trade for business people with focus on empowering small businesses.