Several members of the Liberian business community have welcomed the promise by President George Weah that his government will not permit Liberian-owned businesses to be marginalized.
The President said that he would prioritize the interest of Liberian-owned businesses, offer programs that would help them become more competitive and offer services that international investors seek as partners.
In his inaugural speech on Monday, January 22 Weah also said Liberians cannot remain spectators in their own economy.
Fredrick Sam Gibson, the chief executive officer of Uncle Sam’s Income Tax & Accounting Service, said President Weah’s statement is timely, and if it is implemented, it will grow Liberian businesses to be able to compete with their foreign counterparts in the country.
Gibson stressed that the growth of any economy is inspired by the private sector, which he believes makes the Liberian leader’s statement timely.
“I see some level of sincerity in President George Weah for that statement and I’m sure he would be true to his promise,” he said.
Gibson drew attention to the dual currency regime that he said has some negative impacts on the economy, and called on the Liberian government to look into it.
“I believe in one currency, especially in our own currency,” he added.
Clarence K. Momolu, president of Kpaku Plaza, a cement importer and distributor, emphasized the need for the Weah-Taylor Administration to take a bold step and give 90 percent of all major contracts to Liberian-owned private enterprises and 10 percent to foreign companies which, he said, will empower Liberians to grow the economy.
“People have said this before, but it did not materialize in the previous governments of Tubman, Tolbert, Doe, Taylor and Madam Sirleaf. So we hope this time President Weah would make a difference and keep his promise to the Liberian-owned business owners,” Momolu said.
He explained that it is encouraging that President Weah has expressed interest to implement programs that will help Liberian-owned businesses and therefore commended the president for his innovation.
“The US dollar is not our currency. I think the government needs to take a bold step like what is happening in Guinea, Ghana, and Sierra Leone.
“We cannot have dual currencies in this economy and want prices to go down, because everybody wants to sell in the U.S. dollar and nobody wants to sell in Liberian dollars,” he said.
Momolu stated that the government’s policy in which business owners pay their taxes in U.S. dollars, “is wrong. We import a lot of commodities but at the Freeport of Monrovia, APM Terminals will ask us to pay in U.S. dollars. The LRA also asks us to pay in U.S. dollars. So where do we get the U.S. dollars to pay to them?”
He said that presents a big problem for Liberian businesses because the foreign businesses have more capital at their disposal than Liberian-owned businesses, adding, “One of the problems we are having is at the Freeport of Monrovia, we pay a lot of taxes because tariffs are very high and the government is not willing to help us.”