Gov’t to Finalize US$1M Loan for Small Businesses

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Min. Wilson Tarpeh addresses the media at the commerce ministry in Monrovia

-Min. Tarpeh lauds Business community for adhering to price tag

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Wilson Tarpeh says the ministry in collaboration with the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) is to finalize all necessary requirements for the US$1 million loan for small businesses across the country.

Mr. Tarpeh made the disclosure on Wednesday at a news conference at the Commerce Ministry in Monrovia. “We want to be able to give US$1,000, US$2,000, and up to US$3,000 to petty traders with a minimum interest rate of 8 percent, while other banks and loan institutions give the interest rate of around 12 to 14 percent to businesses,” the Minister said.

According to him, the initiative aims to empower Liberian small businesses amid some of the challenges affecting them, including access to finance.

Mr. Tarpeh said President George Weah is more concerned about empowering Liberian small businesses, an initiative that all lieutenants of the President are committed to supporting.

“This money will not be for only Monrovia-based businesses. We will ensure that businesses in the rural areas also get access to the loan. There will a complete publicity about the loan that will enable businesses across the country to apply for it as well” Mr. Tarpeh indicated.

Commenting on the recent requests made by petroleum traders for the increment of petroleum products, Mr. Tarpeh said the ministry and along with the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) were pleased with the level of the negotiation.

“We are a responsible government and deem it necessary to sit on the table to discuss this important issue affecting this sector. Now, a petroleum retail price for a gallon of gasoline has increased from US$3.55 or its Liberian dollar equivalent of LD$540 to US$3.70 or its Liberian equivalent of LD580, while the retail pump price for a gallon of diesel fuel has also increased from US$3.70 or its Liberian dollar equivalent of $560 to US$3.95 or its Liberian dollar equivalent of LD615,” he said.

He said the prices in Liberian dollars were calculated using the Central Bank’s approved exchange rate of 1USD to LRD$156.

“On the road fund, the government is not prepared to negotiate that, because it was agreed upon to take effect in January 2016. They asked for the government to waive from January 2016 to July of 2018, but it is not possible,” Mr. Tarpeh said.

According to him, the government has decided to give dealers a reasonable period to allow them to pay, which will be concluded in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Mr. Tarpeh has lauded businesses for their compliance towards prices were agreed upon with the government.

Minister Tarpeh said the regulation aims to ensure that businesses are transparent in their transactions.
He further called on businesses to adhere to the publication of the price of their wares in both Liberian and United States dollars to avoid customers asking for prices of their goods.

“We want to ensure that the buyers do not ask for prices of goods in any supermarket and other business places within the commerce of Liberia. Again, since Liberia is in a dual currency regime, all our valued merchants are required to put their prices in both currencies [on] the goods or items,” Mr. Tarpeh said.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Here we go again: Another government “loan” program to help small businesses across the country. But we all know what happens when a government ministry or agency is allowed to pick the winners and losers of government contracts, loans, etc, the consequences are corruption, cronyism and stealing!

    For example, in 2014, the government give the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning (MFDP) US$2 million to run a program called the Private Sector Development Initiatives (PSDI) that
    provided loans to Liberian-owned Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs). But guess what happened?

    According to the government’s internal auditor’s report, many of the PSDI applicants had No collateral, No physical address, No comprehensive marketing survey, but they still got the loan!.

    As you can see, PSDI wasn’t a loan program!! It was a Halloween program for the Deputy Minister of MFDF (Dr. Kollie) and his criminal surrogates! Kollie, who was in charge of PSDI, was handing out government money like Halloween candies to his concubines and cronies!

    But did Kollie and his criminal surrogates go to jail for using other people’s hard earned money to underwrite loans for their bogus businesses?? Please.. The government shouldn’t be in the business of using other people’s hard earned money to finance businesses that are deemed least to succeed by private sector banks.

  2. In Japan: Datsun, Toyota, Mazda, Isuzu… in the U.S General Electric, Pepco Energy, including industries of other industrialized nations, were all, once upon a time, funded by government until these giants companies could stand on their own. Only in Liberia and sub-Saharan Africa we continue to perpetuate poverty by not nationalizing our private sectors to help individual innovation. The first priority of any nation is to educate it citizens, so as to meet the challenges that come with modernization. We can only do that if the economy of Liberia and other African Nations are in the hands of the people and sitting government.

    We can nationalized our private sectors to fund our messy educational system, to bring all citizens on equal footings. Mechanics, electricians, bankers, Medical Doctors, Nurse Practitioners etc…..the list goes on and on. The capitalist system that we inherited from our foreign friends and ‘partner’, is not benefiting us. We are more poorer now then we were in the 50’s,60’s or 70’s, by inflation standard. The system is only benefiting the foreign investors, leaving our people to pick up the pieces.
    Giving 2 million dollars loan for small business owners is not bad, however, are the recipients of the loan really know the terms and conditions of said loan ? Do they understand the state of the economic of the country at present before signing for the loan? What is the spread sheet of the company, restaurants, or vending business the recipient has before given the loan?

    Let the government encourage innovative entrepreneurs through work shop and training. We can initiate he Chinese examples: by training individuals in various fields of their (individual’s) choice of career, and funding and monitoring that individual, or group. This is how Toyota started, even Volkswagen, begins the same way. With this, we can lean to own and operate our own industry(ies). Bit by bit, we will be able to take over our own financial institutions, instead relying on foreign entities all the time. Anytime they park up an go, we are left with nothing but to starve.

  3. There is a big difference between what Commerce Minister Tarpeh is doing and what former Finance Minister Mollie did. This time, an announcement to the public is made and will continue to be made periodically.

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