A meeting between the President and members of the Chamber of Commerce, the Liberia Business Association, the Liberia Marketing Association and the Yana Boys Association is scheduled for this week in an effort to engage in continuing dialogue over ways of improving the current business climate in the country, the Executive Mansion press release says.
The planned meeting comes following separate meetings last Friday, February 3, by the Economic Management Team (EMT) and the cabinet, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to discuss measures aimed at addressing the current economic situation the country faces, with emphasis on enhancing ongoing efforts to diversify through agriculture and manufacturing.
According to the release, the cabinet reviewed the current state of the economy with emphasis on the execution of the budget and its existing revenue performance as well as received updates on commerce-related issues and has mandated appropriate corrective actions.
The EMT has commissioned an immediate review of the recent amendments to the Revenue Code with the aim to correct provisions that are inconsistent with the requirements of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) regime, which allows a 3-year accession window to avert an unfair burden being placed on the business community and the consuming public. Following a review of the amendments, a new bill correcting the identified inconsistencies will be submitted to the National Legislature for passage into law.
The EMT and cabinet also noted the continuing efforts which are being made by the Central Bank of Liberia and the Ministry of Finance since the past weeks to reduce and stabilize the foreign exchange rate that have begun to yield positive results, with the steady decline of the rate in favor of the Liberian dollar.
The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has also been mandated to review the alarming situation of capital flight and strengthen its regulatory measures so as to curb the illicit repatriation of foreign currency from the country.
On the issue of flaunting of the Liberianization Law, which reserves several businesses for the exclusive participation of Liberians, the EMT has called for a more robust enforcement by relevant ministries and agencies with specific emphasis on dealing with the situation wherein many citizens engage in fronting for foreigners.
The cabinet in concert with the EMT has mandated that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry conclude arrangements which will lead to the elimination of the Import Permit Declaration (IPD) regime on the importation of certain vital commodities such as rice and flour. The elimination of the IPD will however be done with strict regulatory standards to ensure quality. The Ministry of Commerce will publish the full list of businesses reserved for Liberians, the list of IPD exempt commodities along with the regulations on quality standards that businesses must meet in order to import the listed commodities.
A pending county tour to western Liberia was announced while cabinet received briefing on the ongoing voter registration process.
In a related development, President Sirleaf briefed cabinet on her meeting with the Arab Bank for Reconstruction and Development (BARDEA) on the margins of the recent AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and discussed support for the financing of the ELWA – Red-Light road estimated at US$15 million; the establishment of a Center of Excellence; and a US$15 million facility to be managed by LBDI aimed at supporting small and medium scale businesses.
Additionally, President Sirleaf has placed a 60-day moratorium on all foreign travel by officials of government effective February 2017. Those affected by the moratorium include the heads of all ministries, agencies and commissions along with their deputies and assistants. Exceptions will only be granted by the President herself following a one-on-one meeting with the official requesting to travel and if it is determined that such travel is of utmost imperative in the national interest.
Cabinet also received updates on this year’s Armed Forces Day celebration, including a line-up of events, ongoing infrastructure projects across the country as well as work in progress at the Monrovia Industrial Park.