In an effort to make import and export more transparent and business-friendly in Liberia, authorities at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) on Thursday, August 16, unveiled an online platform for businesses to track their Import Permit Declarations (IPD) and Export Permit Declarations (EPD).
An IPD is a statement made by the importer (owner of the goods) or their agent (licensed customs broker), to provide information about the goods being imported. It also collects details on the importer, how the goods are being transported, the tariff classification and customs value.
The online system allows businesses to track the status of their IPD and EPD via the Commerce Ministry’s website or via the LIB Business Hub website. Once on either website, businesses should select “Imports and Exports” and finally, “Import/Export Tracking”. The page that comes up will ask businesses to enter their Tax Identification Number (TIN) or their IPD/EPD Number. The requested status information is displayed in a chart below the field.
The Ministry says businesses can also now receive a text message when their IPD/EPD is ready.
Nyema Wisner, Deputy Minister for Commerce, who launched the system yesterday, said the Ministry is committed to process all IPDs within 24 hours and all EPDs within 48 hours. “We are already processing over 50 percent of IPDs in under 24 hours, so with this new system we hope to fast track the process,” he added.
Congratulating the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh for his tireless efforts in making sure that Liberians enjoy a friendly business climate under President Weah’s regime, Deputy Minister Wisner said the launch of the new digital import and export permit tracking system marks another historical entry into the import and export sector, and expressed the hope that businesses will make use of it.
“We are also working to enable traders and brokers to print the IPD and EPD form on their computers and bring it to the Ministry instead of picking up the forms from us,” Minister Wisner told the business people.
In the future, according to him the Ministry will seek to establish an entirely paperless process for which a larger investment in IT infrastructure is required.
However, Minister Wisner informed the business community, particularly those present at the launch, that MOCI has renovated the customer service center to provide a more professional environment.
Wilfred J.S. Bangura, Deputy Minister for Administration, said “we are certainly grateful for this day because we are here to witness the inauguration of the IPD and EPD system at the Ministry of Commerce.”
Minister Bangura said it has been six months since Minister Tarpeh led a team of exuberant, energetic patriots, especially young Liberians, to come and transform MOCI and to ensure that business communities who have the opportunity to do business with the MOCI will get to realize that the ministry belongs to them.
“So in a sense, the ‘Prof’ has been working very hard in taking this ministry here on Ashumn Street to every business community and this inauguration is yet another great leap that is going to orchestrate (score) the mass movement forward in our commercialization and how we acquire Import Permit Declaration (IPD) and Export Permit Declaration (EPD),” Bangura said.
In several remarks, the national chairman of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), Dominic Nimely and the president of the National Customer Brokers Association of Liberia (NCBAL), Alvin Tumbey, thanked the MOCI for the initiative.
However, the two business leaders also expressed concern over the new system and called on the ministry to do further improvement “because we need strong internet service to download the form and if some of us are out of internet service it means that we will not process the document for that day.”