Three major negative issues that have affected the Liberian economy and the Liberian business community have compelled the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) to call for a massive gathering of its members at the Capitol Building from today, January 31 to February 2.
The organizers, according to a statement, want Lawmakers to Revisit New Tax Law, the Common External Tariffs and want police harassment of traders to stop. The protests are expected to be peaceful and meant to serve as a call on members of the House of Representatives and Senators to immediately look into what they described as “the imposition of high tariffs on goods imported to Liberia,” the “constant increase of the United States dollars on the market” and “police harassment of petty traders.”
The business people, comprising local entrepreneurs, petty traders, moneychangers, and others, according to a citation, will gather to “stage a rally in and around the Capitol Building with a petition to the House to revisit the new tax law and the Common External Tariff (CET) Law.”
They are saying that though every Liberian is suffering the harshness of the economic recession that the country currently faces, they are bearing the heaviest of the burden.
The PATEL citation, distributed yesterday throughout Monrovia to traders, wants every member of the Liberian business community to come forth to deliver a statement to lawmakers elected to do the people’s business about the difficult trend of their economy.
The anticipated action by Liberian business owners today may pose a strain on the Liberian economy as consumers, who are the end users of goods and services, will suffer the brunt of their action.
Among businesses expected to join the call today, many include cold water sellers, petty traders, store owners, used clothes owners, car importers, street side sellers, and international traders.
The citation, signed by Presley Tenwah, acting PATEL chairman, and approved by Prince Howard, executive director of PATEL, said at the end of the three-day gathering a petition would be presented to the lawmakers with recommendations for action.
Said acting chairman Tenwah: “Our petition to the lawmakers will urge them to revisit the new tax law and the common external tariff of Liberia and also ensure that Liberian petty traders are no longer harassed by officers of the Liberia National Police.
“We are doing this because those who are responsible to regulate these laws told us that they cannot do anything about the current economic crisis and only our lawmakers can handle that for us.”
The Public Affairs Director at the Ministry of Commerce, Michel Jones, in a phone conversation said the Ministry of Commerce “is doing everything possible to see how best they can address the plight of the business people.”
“But we are not responsible for collecting taxes in this country; it is the responsibility of the Liberia Revenue Authority to collect taxes. What we can do is to work together to resolve the issue,” he said.