Flashback: LCC president Ananaba (r), along with some executive members being sworn in office by Cllr. T. Negabalee Warner in May, 2017.

-LCC President Ananaba Urges Gov’t; takes oath of office

As part of efforts to provide an enabling business environment for Liberians, particularly those in rural areas, the new president of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), Charles Ananaba, has called on government to provide incentives for businesses to expand outside of Monrovia.

Mr. Ananaba made the statement last Friday at a program marking the official installation of the new LCC leadership, held at a resort in Monrovia.

The newly inducted LCC president said if businesses are provided incentives, it will help revive the economy, accelerate growth and development, as well as reduce poverty.

He said the country has a capital city that is overcrowded; and as such, government needs to help put the necessary security, roads and other infrastructure in place, including tax incentives that would entice business entrepreneurs to invest and help boost the economy.

“We need a better relationship and process between our government and our businesses when it comes to businesses providing the government with fair market value for goods and services on the one hand and the government in return living up to its payment terms and paying businesses back in full and on time.

“When businesses succeed, they will create more jobs, hire more people and pay better salaries and taxes and will ultimately lead to putting more Liberians back to work and reducing the unemployment and underemployment rates,” Mr. Ananaba said.

Ananaba said that new entrepreneurs are also likely to be inspired to start new businesses.

As an economy in recovery, government needs to keep taxes low, which will subsequently keep the cost of business low, allowing those cost-savings to pass on to the Liberian people.

Acknowledging the outgoing president and staff of LCC, Ananaba called on members of the LCC to positively influence government to provide the foundation and climate for businesses to prosper in Liberia.

“We need more support from government, and here are a few areas where government could assist in positively driving the economy,” LCC president noted.

Earlier in her keynote address, U.S. Ambassador Christine Elder said Liberia is rich in natural resources, but revenues from these sources can be a mixed blessing. While such revenues do help address the country’s financial constraints, they do not directly create broad-based economic development.

Ambassador Elder said whether or not gold, oil, or iron ore are found in commercial quantities, or the price of agriculture commodities increase, Liberia still needs to ensure that it offers an investment climate that encourages the private sector, including agriculture, manufacturing and services. That means ensuring that good economic policies are in place and effectively implemented.

Francis A. Dennis, outgoing president of LCC, who briefed members on his four years stay at the chamber, said the LCC witnessed an unfavorable global economy, in which countries suffered from the shocks of the downward spiral in commodity prices.

He said the adverse situation was compounded by the deadly Ebola virus.

“These developments combined with the drawdown of UNMIL, contributed to the economy growing at an estimated negative 0.5 percent in 2016, while the exchange rate depreciated by an annual average of around 13.9 percent and ended a depreciation of 15.8 percent.

“These facts highlight the continuous pressure on the Liberian economy and the challenges faced by the business community,” he said.

Confronted with these developments, Mr. Dennis said the government embarked on a more vigorous collection of revenues, through the newly established Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

Against this background, he said, the LCC has been a partner with government, in particular through the Ministry of Commerce, in developing strategies to weather the storm.

Mr. Dennis concluded that the LCC has been an active participant in the National Trade Facilitation Committee, the quarterly stakeholders’ forum chaired by the LRA, and has intervened in several disputes with respect to customs and other taxes.

The newly inducted leadership will serve the institution for the next four years.

Those inducted into office included Charles Ananaba, President; Assad Barbar, 1st Vice Chair; Johnny Babani, 2nd Vice Chair; Charles E. Collins Sr, Treasurer; Ravneek K. Suji, Auditor; Milad Asmar, Arbitration Committee; Richard B. Falla, Arbitration Committee; Francis A. Dennis, immediate past president of LCC; Monie R. Captan, past president; Cllr. David K. Vinton, past president; David A.B. Jallah, past president; Henry Reed Cooper, past president; Freddie R. Taylor Jr., past president; Cllr. Seward M. Cooper, past president; and Marouf A. Mansour, Secretary General of the World Lebanese Cultural Union.

Members of the Executive Council included: Tony Hage, George Nehme, C. Nelson Oniyama, Jaspal Sigh, O. Natty B. Davis, Tarek Razzouk, Giorgio Haddad, Lusinee F. Kamara Sr., Divesh Babani.

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