— LACRA informs Senate
The director general of the Liberia Agriculture Commodities Regulatory Authority (LACRA), has said that contrary to protest by cocoa and coffee farmers of marginalization, seven Liberians have been licensed, along with two foreigners, to export cocoa and coffee from the country.
Though Dr. John Flomo did not name the foreigners when he appeared before the Senate on
Thursday, August 8, 2019, during the 51st sitting of that august body, he said that LACRA has not included anything new from the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC).
According to the LACRA regulation submitted to the senate convening as the committee of the whole, any individual or company that wants to export cocoa from Liberia to the international market has to show proof that they have at least US$25,000 as a bank balance at the time of applying for export license; while an individual or company will have to pay for export license in the amount of US$10,000.
At the same time, in order to be an exporter in the country, one must to own a registered business in good standing with the tax regime, with a warehouse that meets the policy standard for LACRA’s commodities.
Dr. Flomo further said that, as per LACRA’s regulation, the royalty on cocoa and coffee is US$50 per metric ton, while obtaining buying license is US$1,000.
In recent weeks, there has been criticism from local produce buying Liberians, claiming that the government has given monopoly power to a Lebanese national as the sole authority to export cocoa and coffee from local buying agents.
Since its establishment in 2018, Dr. Flomo said that LACRA has exported over 17,000 tons of cocoa and coffee, but failed to say how many tons were exported by the two non-Liberians.
Many Senators found the LACRA policy and regulations now currently being crafted as too stringent, especially the monetary value for obtaining export license. The Senators expressed fear that, unless a regulation is put in place that will ensure that Liberians will not end up fronting for foreigners who are more financially powerful, Liberians themselves would not have a chance to compete in the cocoa export sector.
Senators J. Gbleh-bo Brown, and Varney G. Sherman, argued that instead of calling for amendment to the LACRA regulation and policy, the legislature should work with the executive branch of government to craft legislation that will place emphasis on agriculture.
The lawmakers maintained that whatever policy is put in place, LACRA must consider Liberians first and, if necessary, do away with the liberal policy that will concerning the involvement of foreigners in obtaining export license.