The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) yesterday launched a major trade support and human resource development program in the country. The Program of Assistance to Trade Support Institutions in Liberia (PATSIL) was inaugurated at the Ministry’s conference room in Monrovia. PATSIL targets three major trade supports institutions in the country, namely: the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the National Port Authority (NPA), whose representatives were present at the ceremony.
The PATSIL program, according to Commerce and Industry Minister Axel M. Addy, will accelerate business processes, facilitate trade and reduce the time it takes to acquire import permit declarations (IPDs) and export permit declarations (EPDs) from two days to 20 minutes. “This will significantly reduce business costs,” said Minister Addy.
IPDs and EPDs are documents required by both and exporters in order to import and export goods to and from the commerce of Liberia.
The NPA is seeking automation of port processes under the project, while the LCC is seeking capacity building for small and medium-sized businesses to enhance their productivity.
The African Development Bank is making available US$1 million from the Africa Trade Fund established by the Bank in 2012 to support the project for the first 18 months. The project itself will spin over a three year period and is directly linked with the Fund’s objectives to enhance support for the soft aspects of trade.
In his keynote address, Commerce and Industry Minister Axel M. Addy noted that the project objectives of PATSIL is to enhance policy framework for the country’s trade sector and improve the human resource capacity of key trade support institutions to analyze, formulate and implement trade policies.
He said the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry believes that enhancing the participation of private sector actors in capacity building initiatives is vital as they will be the main engines driving progress and reducing poverty.
The Commerce Minister named technical assistance, human resource capacity and logistical support as the project pillars. He observed that the business community will benefit from an improved business environment created by the various policies to be developed under the project.
“Traders will benefit from improved efficiency in service delivery achieved through the automation of import and export permit documents,” he said.
Speaking at the launch, AfDB Country Program Officer Alain-Piere Mbonanpen intoned that PATSIL marked another milestone in AfDB’s partnership with Liberia, building on the Bank’s support in other sectors of the Liberian economy.
“In fact,” he said “the Bank has a current portfolio amounting to US$267 million from which 26% is invested in agriculture, 24% in road sector, 19% in governance and 16% in the water and sanitation sector.”
Mr. Mbonanpen noted that AfDB’s support affirms the Bank’s efforts to enhance its engagement with fragile state such as Liberia; in order to be more responsive to the people’s needs and support the country’s efforts to achieve sustainable development.
The AfDB official assured that PATSIL will enhance the capacity of trade institutions in the country to create an environment for competitive trade, production and value addition. According to Mr. Mbonanpen, the aim of the project is to demonstrate some quick wins which will help to unlock additional funding by the Bank for the remainder of the period.
For his part, NPA Deputy Comptroller Francis Dopoh lauded the collaboration between the AfDB, NPA, MOCI and the LCC for the partnership under the PATSIL. The NPA Deputy Comptroller noted that the PATSIL project will help automate the port system.
“The Bank’s assistance to NPA in automating the port system will add value to the smooth operations of the ports of Liberia,” he said.
In her intervention, LCC Secretary General Madam Masa Lansannah said LCC is pleased to be a part of the PATSIL project that seeks to build capacity for SMEs and improve trade in the country.
“The LCC is committed to enhancing the participation of private sector in capacity building for the sector,” she said. Y
She praised the AfDB for financing the project and said it will go a long way in facilitating trade in the country.