Members of the business community, led by the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, have unanimously voted to boycott the National Port Authority (NPA) effective March 5, 2019.
The Liberia Chamber of Commerce held an urgent meeting with members of the business community on Monday, February 25, 2019 at 4pm at the Chamber of Commerce to update the Business Community on the status of the implementation of the controversial Global Tracking & Maritime Solutions (GTMS) Cargo Tracking Number (CTN) fees; and to decide/vote on a plan of action if the issues of GTMS/CTN were not properly addressed by the NPA.
The Business Community was well represented through their various businesses, organizations, and associations including the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), Fula Business Association, World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU), Liberia Wholesalers Association, National Customs Brokers Association (NCBA), Association of Indian Community in Liberia (AICL), Pharmaceutical Importers & Wholesalers Associations of Liberia, and Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (the two PATELs).
After a lengthy discussion by members of the business community, a motion was put on the floor and voted on:
“If the NPA cannot address the concerns surrounding the implementation of the GTMS/CTN fees by Friday, March 1, 2019, as promised by the NPA Board special committee represented by Minister Wilson Tarpeh, the Business Community will boycott the NPA by the following actions, effective Tuesday, March 5, 2019: no clearing of goods at all Ports; no obtaining Import Permit Declaration (IPDs);and no payment of government customs duties,” the business community said in a statement.
The boycott is based on concerns previously raised by the Business Community that have not yet been addressed by the NPA since November 2018 to date. Some of the concerns are:
ECONOMIC FINANCE IMPACT
- CONTAINERS TRACKING: Real time Container tracking is a free service already offered by all shipping lines.
- ADDITIONAL INCREASE IN COST TO OUR EXPORTERS: Additional Cost for exports such as rubber, cocoa, palm oil, iron ore etc., which are already uncompetitive due to high power costs
- COST TO LIBERIA’S CONSUMERS: Most importantly, additional cost to the consumers and the public at large. The government has proffered and prioritized the interest of the poor people under its national program “The Pro-Poor Agenda”.
- PROCEDURES AND COST IMPLICATIONS: Additional procedure and cost adding steps to the current systems in place i.e. BIVAC / MOCI/ASYCUDA from 13 to 20 steps for 1 shipment
- DUPLICATION FUNCTIONS: BIVAC / ASYCUDA Cargo Tracking Number (CTN) does not add value
- RISKS MANAGEMENT TOOLS: GTMS fails as a purported risk management tool organization because it has no agents or global network abroad to validate information it collects from importers
- SUPPLIERS RELUCTANT TO ORDER/SHIPPING: Supplier reluctant to work with small businesses due to the long and cumbersome processes to get one shipment out
- GTMS SYSTEM GUARANTEE: GTMS cannot guarantee a level playing field to importers as BIVAC does because GTMS does not have the global network and capacity, which will allow under invoicing due to the information not being validated
CANCELLATION: The award process of CTN in Liberia did not go through the Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC) compliance and consultation process. The Ministry of Justice and/or the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, as required by law, did not sign the GTMS contract.
- INSTITUTION CREDIBILITY: GTMS, the awardee, lacks credibility as documented in their operations in Sierra Leone;
- BULLETS OF CORRUPT PRACTICES: GTMS has been accused of corruption in Sierra Leone, thus the President of Sierra Leone issued an Executive Order in February 2019 cancelling their contract
- NOTED INTERNATIONAL STANDARD PRACTICES: No country in the world has both CTN and Pre Destination inspection. Liberia will be the only one out of 195 countries to have both systems in place, which will hinder trade.