Ice Cream ‘War’ Resurfaces

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..Sharks manager writes Minister Addy

Mrs. Eyvonne Bright Harding, chief executive officer (CEO) of Sharks Enterprise, an ice cream producer, has written a letter to the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel Addy, drawing his attention to the ongoing controversy over who should manufacture and retail ice cream in the country.

A copy of Mrs. Harding’s May 15 letter in possession of the Daily Observer reads, “Mr. Minister, it has come to our attention that another ice cream parlor is about to open on the Tubman Boulevard in Sinkor directly opposite the Exclusive Supermarket on 19th Street. We observed the sign -“Creamery,” and immediately contacted Minister Steve Marvey on May 13, 2017.”

Mrs. Harding also told Minister Addy that she was informed that like Sharks, “they intend to retail ice cream at that location, as well as supply all of their foreign counterparts. We, as you are aware, have a serious challenge in supplying supermarkets in and around Monrovia.

“The production and retailing of ice cream by non-Liberians is a violation. Their investment is not equivalent to the threshold required.”

According to Mrs. Harding, who is still paying ERA Supermarket for the equipment imported as part of an amicable solution to the issue, the “Nice Cream” issue has not been resolved, “and now we are confronted with another.”

She said another ice cream entity is about to open after ERA could not intervene. “Why? I still don’t understand why the Liberia Business Registry (L.B.R.) continues to register businesses, which do not meet the threshold per the investment code. Why does MoCI think it is best practice to allow someone to invest, than fight to shut him or her down? Wasn’t an Import Permit Declaration (I.P.D) issued by the MoCI for such equipment to be imported? Doesn’t the ministry have oversight responsibility of the L.B.R.?”

The letter continues: “Mr. Minister, how will we grow as SMEs in our own borders? It is difficult enough with all the loans, high interest rates, tough repayment periods, high utility costs, and under-capitalization just to name a few.

“How can they retail ice cream, slush popcorn after putting a halt to ERA’s sale of these very items under the same circumstances and environment? If you refer to my previous letter, I mentioned that ERA was setting the stage for every supermarket owned by Lebanese to retail items like ice cream, slush and popcorn as well as engage in businesses set aside for Liberians only. Today, it appears that the MoCI have set the stage for any foreign national to engage in whatever business, not just ice cream, they choose.

“PLEASE don’t allow those who pretend to be our partners to kill our dreams before they are realized. Today, we see the largest quantity of imported ice cream ever in the history of our country. Today, we see block making, ice and water, sand mining, etc., just to name a few businesses, which are being violated. All of these violations have become prevalent under your administration, Minister Addy. I am a tried, tested, and proven Liberian female in this industry struggling to make the best of the prevailing circumstances.

“How do we pay government taxes? How do we continue to assist government in the employment sector?  How and when do we become millionaires in our own country? If MoCI continues to allow these violations to occur, every foreigner will do as he/she pleases, thereby allowing Liberians to lose the economy. Please use your good offices to intervene again,” the letter concluded.

Mrs. Harding’s letter came against the backdrop of the ministry’s reported efforts to settle the issue with Nice Ice Cream (which remains open), and now another ice cream spot is opening up, thereby complicating the situation.

While Ministry Addy is yet to respond to Harding’s letter, a bystander believes that Sophie’s Ice Cream thrived for decades because previous governments upheld the law, “but that’s not the case here. Eyvonne is not afraid of competition; she just wants fair competition.”

Authors

22 COMMENTS

  1. Sister, if you have good business people will come. Competition is good for capitalism We cannot have only one ice cream shop. What happen if you close down. Good player don’t fight for jersey. You don’t see the strong market women complaining about the other market women from neighboring countries. The Liberian market women just work hard and their hard work speaks for itself. You elite Liberian women want things handed to you on a silver platter with governments help

    • Johnson,u seem to have missed d bigger picture here, she is not against competition( Bonjal, Musu spot) but rather d injustice of foreigners doing d very same businesses set aside for Liberians. Why isnt she fighting d two businesses I mentioned above is u claimed she’s afriad

      • Hey Musu, if she (Madame Harding-Bright) is not against competition, then why is she against foreigners, acting independently, to secure the business of the Liberian consumers (the masses) by offering the most favorable terms (price-wise) to them.?? Or does she want the Liberian government to use it police power to protect her from foreign competition? I believe the latter is true!!!

        By the way, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines competition in business as “the effort of two or more parties acting independently to secure the business of a third party by offering the most favorable terms”.[

    • This should not be anything to argue about. The Lebanese and Indians have always had control of the Liberian economy. They corrupt the Liberian officials by bribing them. It is time the Liberian Government give Liberian citizens the help they need to grow the economy and create employment opportunities.

  2. Hey Madame Harding-Bright, can you tell me what’s the economic relevance of one’s nationality??
    In other words, supposed a Lebanese or a Liberian tries to sell ice cream to you, would his or her (seller) nationality matter to you??
    If so, then more power to you. Go ahead and purchase his product. And purchase as much as you can.
    But, why oh why, are YOU and those economically illiterate clowns at Ministry of Commerce prohibiting ordinary Liberians, like myself, from buying ice cream, whip cream, and Viagra from foreigners?
    Yes, I know, I know , our Liberianization Policy makes it’s illegal for foreigners to “manufacture and retail ice cream” our Country.. But, for the past 40 years, the Liberian government have tried to enforce an economically disastrous policy (Liberianization) that resulted in a) forcing Liberians to front for foreign business owners (fraud), b) protecting and propping up Liberian businesses from competition in market place (anti-competitive), and c) prohibiting WILLING buyers from buying certain products from foreigners (discriminatory).!

    Um, I don’t no disrespect, but how do YOU judge a government’s policy? By its intention or its results? I’m dying to hear from you.

  3. Bravo !!! To Mrs. Harding for bringing awareness to the Liberian small business policy. We encourage foreign investors for the growth of the economy. The concern here is not about competitions, it’s about following policies and procedures that hurt small business Liberian investors. For example, look at your neighbors, the west coast of Africa. Where do you see foreign investors have all these rights? One example Ghana, Ghanians control the economy, by encouraging investors to join with local Ghanians business investors. Liberia open door policy need to be scrutinized, this is a new Liberia. We are not stupid people. You need to know your rights, and fight for your rights.

    • If Mrs. Harding isn’t concern about competition, why keep foreigners out? The ONLY reason for keeping foreigners out is, because foreign competition is HARMFUL to Harding’s ice cream business.. That’s why she supports Liberianization wholeheartedly! It protects her from foreign competition!

      But look. If Mrs. Harding can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, she should get the hell out! Ordinary Liberians should be free to spend their money in whatever peaceful ways they choose, without having their government telling them who to buy ice cream or whip cream from

      • Hi. Mr. Scott
        I’ve been away from Liberia almost forty years, may not know all the details.
        Going back to my youth days in Liberia, the economic in Liberia was control by the Lebanese. I don’t think Mrs. Harding is afraid of competition from other Liberians. Competing with foreigners who are coming to Liberia with lots of money legal or illegal we don’t know, if she had access to that same amounts of money I’m show she will not be afraid of competition. The Liberian Government need to enforce any laws that protects Liberians businesses in Liberia from foreigners. Liberians need to take over their own economic.
        Remember one thing Mr. Scott, the freedom that the Lebanese have in Liberia economic, Liberian do not have that same freedom in Lebanon. We should learn from other African Country. We shouldn’t let our leaders sell our country.

          • Hey Kwaide,

            My thinking is, ordinary Liberians, like myself, should be FREE to spend OUR money in whatever peaceful ways WE choose, without having our government telling US who to BUY ice cream or whip cream from. Can you tell us what’s your thinking?

  4. Look Martin, except u decides to ignore the issue but I do believe that this is not a question of whether or not mrs harding is afred Of competition. Her intention is clear that this is against the Law. Such business Was set aside for Liberian only, do you think the government did not study the economic conditions of the country and it citizens before passing such law? I believe they did. That a Liberian is fronting for forginer does not make it legal when said person is cough they will face the Law. The lady outline the difficulties envolve in getting a loan as a SME those are just few she spoke about. I think Women like Mrs. Harding must even be appreciated for mounting the courage in during business like the one she does and sustaining it amised the deficoutie. If these “so called ” investers want to invest let them move above the threshold. making of icecrime is not an investment.

    • Mr. Thomas, did you read my previous posting? I agree that the Liberianization Policy (the law) makes it illegal for foreigners to “manufacture and retail ice cream” our Country..

      But do you know that the sole purpose (intent) of this policy is to increase Liberian participation in the local economy, which is dominated by foreigners.?? But guess what has happened?

      For the past 40 years, our Liberianization Policy have forced Liberians to front for foreign businesses, b) protected and propped up well-connected Liberian businesses from competition in market place, and c) kept lower priced goods and services from ordinary Liberians!

      Judging by such disastrous results, don’t you think it’s time to get rid of our Liberianization Policy? By the way, how do YOU judge a government’s policy? By its intention or its results? I’m dying to hear from you!.

      • Even in the fronting process, Liberia gains. Let the law be enforced. Fronting is just a loop hole that is not ilegal. In the end the law achieves for Liberia by giving a liberian a defacto share holder.

        • Hey Zulu,
          Why do you want the government to keep enforcing a law (Liberianization Policy aka Investment Act) that is anti-competitive, discriminatory, and economically disastrous for our country? Keeping such law on our books has kept Liberians poor. Do you want to continue to keep poor Liberians poor? Isn’t 40 years of this economically disastrous policy enough for you? I rest my case!

  5. Certain businesses are designated for Liberians only because of the need to protected and empower Liberians. If opened to foreigners it will allow for unfair competition. Besides foreign investors are expected to undertake larger investments the will allow for economic development on a greater scale…mass employment, tax revenue, etc. We need to uphold these laws! This is how unpatriotic Liberians have become. We cannot even protect our own people by upholding our laws. Those laws were put into place for a reason…to protect ordinary Liberians from powerful rich foreign investors.

    • Hey Mr. Yates,
      Do you know that “protecting and empowering” a few Liberian-owned business means HIGHER prices for the masses? Supposed a foreigner wants to sell YOU an ice cream at a lower price than a Liberian-owned business, do you want the government to FORCE (Liberianization Policy) you to buy from a Liberian-owed business??
      Why shouldn’t ordinary Liberians be free to spend their money in whatever peaceful ways they choose, without having their government FORCING them to buy from Liberian-owned businesses? If you love FREEDOM, you should tell your government to get rid of Liberianization!

  6. The fact here that most people are missing, has nothing to do with competition, rather the unfair business practices. If certain commodities are to sold exclusively by Liberian businesses, such policy must to upheld. Should this be to the contrary, than, there should be an amendment to that policy so that there is a free market for all. We, as a nation can not make policies that protects Liberian businesses, and act on the contrary. Our policies which protects Liberian businesses can’t only be seen on papers, yet, implementation continued to be a serious challenge. Quite recently, the small business were enraged by failure of government to hear their plight until of recent, when the case which would have brought rioting, was amicably settled by the President. The President would not have gotten involved with these cases if those who are appointed with oversight responsibilities were enforcing policies. Mrs. Yvonne Bright Harding is standing up alone for what she believes is a violation to the guidelines to the Ice Cream Business and other businesses to name a few. Soon, those who are also disenfranchised will raise their voices. This is how chaos start. Let the Minister investigate and do what is right.

  7. The fact here, that most people are missing, has nothing to do with competition, rather the unfair business practices. If certain commodities are to sold exclusively by Liberian businesses, such policy must be upheld. Should this be to the contrary, than, there should be an amendment to that policy so that there is a free market for all. We, as a nation can not make policies that protects Liberian businesses, and act on the contrary. Our policies which protects Liberian businesses can’t only be seen on papers, yet, implementation continues to be a serious challenge. Quite recently, the small businesses were enraged by failure of government to hear their plight until of recent, when the case which would have brought rioting, was amicably settled by the President. The President would not have gotten involved with these cases if those who are appointed with oversight responsibilities were enforcing policies. Mrs. Yvonne Bright Harding is standing up alone for what she believes is a violation to the guidelines to the Ice Cream Business and other businesses to name a few. Soon, those who are also disenfranchised will raise their voices. This is how chaos start. Let the Minister investigate and do what is right.

    • Ms. Cuffy-
      Since you say that the issue here “has nothing to do with competition, rather the unfair business practices”, what’s your definition of “unfair” (or fair, for this mater )?? Is it fair (or unfair) business practice for the government to set aside certain businesses for a select group of Liberians? What makes this group of Liberian businesses so special that they must be “set aside” by government diktats?? Is it fair (or unfair) for lawmakers to use their legislative power to force one group of Liberians to buy cold,water, kalla, and ice cream from another group of Liberians??. (Ok, ok, I apologize for using the term “cold water” and “lawmakers” in the same sentence. I promise it won’t happen again!)

      Maybe your definition of “fair” (or unfair) would shed more light on the “unfair business practice” issue.

      By the way, don’t ALL Liberian businesses deserve “equal protection” under the law (Constitution)?? Doesn’t this preferential treatment (Liberianization Policy) defies Article 8 and Article 11(c) [equal protection of the law (see b)]??
      I rest my case!

  8. One reaps wharever she or he sows. Liberians’ crab syndrome will kill all liberian owned businesses. It is simple, let patriotic liberians boycott all those businesses, to see if they will thrive on the patronage of beggers – corrupt elites. The fact remained that they – corrupt elites go there to eat and drink free for protection and shielding of the violaters. They they will enriched River Du while liberia remained backwards and underdeveloped. What kind of people are we? We continue to rewards theives and visionless people. Indeed, ours isn’t ours but avacious circle?

    • Mr. Zulu,

      YOU and your “patriotic Liberians” can boycott the businesses all you want, but please, please, let ordinary Liberians, like myself, be free to spend OUR money in whatever peaceful ways WE choose, without having our government telling us who to buy ice cream or whip cream from!! If you love FREEDOM, you’d fight for FREE markets!

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