-Seeks President Sirleaf’s Intervention
After a failed negotiation between lawmakers and members of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), the group says it will begin a nationwide shutdown strike action beginning on April 10, 2017. The group said all businesses in the country will be affected by the action.
A statement issued by PATEL said since lawmakers promised to address the issues that necessitated the first major three-day city shutdown, the government has not been able to address them.
The statement mentioned high tariffs and incidental tariffs that are placed on goods imported by Liberian businesses, and constant police harassment of traders, including street sellers.
The statement appealed to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to quickly respond to their concerns to avoid difficulties that may arise as soon as April 3, a week before the planned strike action.
The statement also called on members of the House of Representatives and Senate to immediately look into “the imposition of high tariffs on goods imported to Liberia, constant increase of the United States dollar rate on the market and police harassment of petty traders.”
The businesspeople, comprising local entrepreneurs, petty traders, moneychangers and others, according to a citation, will gather to “stage a rally at the Capitol Building.”
PATEL’s statement said: “All we’ve been getting is promises but nothing has changed. All they have been saying to us is that we should come on March 10th; and then, and go-and-come-back tactics.” The statement said the government has failed to make good on its promise to look into concerns raised, which prompted the recent three-day strike action.
“We’ll be closing all our businesses again from April 10 until serious action can be taken in our favor,” said Presley Tenwah, the chairman of PATEL.
He continued: “We are again encouraging our people to purchase whatever they want because this time around we are not going to relent, if we cannot hear from the lawmakers. We are calling on Ma Ellen to speak for us so that our concerns can be resolved.”
It can be recalled that PATEL in a recent petition to the Legislature called for the classification of Liberian businesses as a special group in relation to the four categories of tariffs, to enable them to pay a flat rate tax of 0% – 5% on all goods imported into Liberia.
PATEL also called for a single customs examination before any payment is made, instead of multiple examinations of goods with separate and distinct tax payments.
The local entrepreneurs called for measures to tackle and stabilize the constant fluctuations of the U.S. dollar against the Liberian dollar in an effort to reduce hardships on both sellers and buyers.
Major businesses and stores were shut down on Tuesday, January 31 in solidarity with a three-day protest action by Liberian businesses.
The action, PATEL said, was to draw the Liberian government’s attention to the prevailing economic hardships Liberians are enduring, coupled with the high exchange rate and the imposition of huge taxes on goods imported into the country.