House Votes to Cancel APM Terminals’ 9.67% Tariff…

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Concession Agreement review pending

The Plenary of the House of Representatives has unanimously voted to nullify or halt the unprecedented 9.67% rise in service fees, especially for the clearing of containers at the Free Port of Monrovia, levied by APM Terminals.

Members of the House of Representatives through a motion, proffered by Rep. Samuel Kogar, also voted to formally write the Chief Executive, President George M. Weah, in the spirit of coordination and collaboration, to oversee its decision on the reversal of the tariff.

The House’s Plenary mandated its committees on Judiciary, Commerce and Trade and Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning to review the 25-year APM Terminal concession agreement and report within two (2) weeks.

APM Terminal Chief Finance Officer, Khalid El Laiti, who is also serving as Acting Managing Director, argued that the increment was in line with the company’s concession agreement with the Government of Liberia, which allows a 2021 tariff adjustment using predefined formula.

He further said that the APM Terminals contracted a private company (investor) who has credited to invest and thus prompted the increased tariff by 9.67%.

Responding to the National Port Authority’s (NPA) Managing Director, Bill Tweahway’s outburst that the concession agreement of APM Terminal is a “Bad agreement” and should be amended, the House of Representatives has ordered NPA to submit reports of compliance with APM Terminals regarding the marine services, top managerial positions and concessional agreements with the signatures of Ministers of Justice and Finance on Thursday, January 28, 2021.

However, APM Terminals was also requested to bring their audited financial reports from 2011 to 2020; 75 copies each.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has summoned the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), BIVAC and GTMS to show cause why they should not be held in contempt.

The LRA and GTMS failed to appear on Tuesday, citing reasons including busy schedule in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, and health problem. Both letters of excuse from the two institutions were written by their respective deputies without attached authority from their bosses (heads), which members of the House described as gross insubordination.

Tuesday’s plenary was interchangeably presided over by Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Deputy Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa.

It may be recalled that last Tuesday, following a motion filed by Representative Dixon Seboe after the report by the House’s specialized committee set up to investigate APM Terminals’ operations in Liberia, the House Plenary summoned APM Terminals, BIVAC, LRA and major shipping lines to appear on Tuesday, January 26.

Presenting the highly anticipated report that contains a comparative analysis of APM Terminals’ operations in Liberia and that of Ghana, the Chairman of the Committee, Representative Clarence Massaquoi (District #3, Lofa County), said unlike in Liberia where APM Terminal has a 100 percent ownership right, APM Ghana has 70 percent share, while the Ghanaians are awarded three percent, with the Ghanaian Government is privileged to buy any of the remaining shares.

Rep. Massaquoi said handing total operation of the port to a foreign firm does not only have economic disadvantages but also security implications.

His colleagues, including rep. Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis and Francis Dopoh, backed him and called for a comprehensive review of the concession. 

They also called for the submission of the company’s financial statements to ascertain if it has invested US$100 million in Liberia as it is being alleged. Other lawmakers, including Rep. Edward Karfia, called for a repeal of the agreement, but Rep. Vincent Willie differed, in that it will affect more Liberians that are already in the employ of the company.

Owing to the prolonged debate over the report on the floor, the plenary decided to further extend the discussion on the report before taking a definite decision.

However, while the committee’s report is being reviewed, plenary opted to invite key players to address the pressing need on hand; some of which include the astronomical increase of service fees charged at the port.

Rep. Francis Nyumalin said while APM Terminal was in the spotlight, there were other key parties including shipping lines and BIVAC, who have also increased their fees and, therefore, they should be invited.

Rep. Seboe, who proffered the motion, calling on all parties to appear with relevant financial documents to state reasons for the continued increment. The officials are to appear next Tuesday, February 2.

The House’s move came as a result of APM Terminals’ latest increment of all current charges of its services at the Free Port of Monrovia.

Recently, the company announced a 9.67 percent increment on all current charges of its services at the Free Port of Monrovia. With the increase, the fee for clearing a 20-foot container is now US$207, up from US$189.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Patriotism: A Deed, Not Empty Words.

    What are other countries like Ghana and others doing different that we cannot do? If we cannot control and manage concession agreements of our own airports, seaports and other area where revenues are generated, how better are we going to build Liberia? Privatizing our revenue generating sectors are important, however it should be done in the interest of the nation, not preying on the nation.

    Predatory concession agreements and other clandestine activities have left our country vulnerable to VULTURE CAPITALISM (sucking the thinnest juice out of our poor people). Making them poorer from generations to generations. Those who are charged with the responsibilities of overseeing these agreement have seen ‘red flags’ but decide to look the other way, due to gains. Some have acted on condition of of ignorant. I m quiet sure that APM terminal bosses were joyed behind the scenes when they approach the Liberian House to ink the final agreement on the contract.

    The goal of all foreign investors is to make money. However, if they see a loophole, they will not hesitate to capitalize. They will also encourage other predators to come and prey on the Liberian people. Especially so when we are not periodically checking their balance sheets

    To my fellow Liberians and to all of our law makers: the holy fire of true PATRIOTISM is serving your country by good deeds, not holding guns to kill fellow citizens in the name of PATRIOTISM. Serving one’s country in good deeds is what make other countries great. That’s the reason most of us are running on our heels fleeing Liberia to go get there.

    Mamadu Bah, (N/P) Nurse Practitioner, Adelaide, Australia.

  2. Good first step. Those who stood to personally benefit from this deal will now be left holding empty bag. Good for them. Too much get-rich-quick schemes on the backs of our poor citizens. It is even difficult to fathom how a government that touted “Pro-poor” as a mantra for lurring votes, would allow such schemes which impose more hardship on the very people it hoodwinked as coming to to power to redeem. If only our lawmakers could continue along this trajectory of correcting some of these bad agreements from time to time, more good things are bound to happen for Liberia. We anxiously wait to see how this one will end once and for all.

    • Don’t look any further that the House alone can not stop any agreement that was passed by the legislature and signed into by the Executive.
      The House is just politically posturing for the uneducated citizens to think that members of the House are up to something good.
      Note in the article of their expressed concerns to the Executive as to how the Executive can work around the issue in the best interest of the country and the company. What the Executive can do is to seek a gradual increase to keep the spirit of the agreement alive, rather than the full amount requested by the company.
      The company made sure to add that clause in the agreement to protect their profits. And many of those same lawmakers sitting there signed that agreement for the company to raise that amount.
      One thing though, that must be one of the agreements that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf used as incentives to pay off the lawmakers to sign the agreement, while on their legislative breaks. That money was good. Fifteen thousand, ten thousand, five thousand US dollars, means once they were payoff, there was no oversight responsibility needed. Now they have their clowns face on. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !
      The House alone can not passed a legislation or law. They are just politically expressing their concerns as if to say that they some how care for the people living under such harsh economic hardship.
      That’s all, nothing else. Called it a political bluffing by members of the House to jump at any political opportunity.

  3. Be careful, lest you drive present and potential investors out and away from Liberia!

    I think the action of our congresswomen and men is drudgery. Let’s learn to solve complex problems creatively.
    Why are you ordering for 75 copies each of the financial statements from 2011 to 2020? Are you technicians or the LRA?
    You can easily get such information from the LRA, if our system is up to standard with other countries.
    Our dear lawmakers, you are jeopardizing income generation and employments. Hire a credible firm to professionally do the job.

    Look my people, it’s good to copy but I will urge you to stop dreary comparison. You have information on Ghana, try to also inquire from other regional countries, East and North Africa and at least 3 European countries before revisiting the existing contract.
    Also know that at the time the deal was being signed with APM Terminals, things were not as we have them now (time factor).
    Do we have the same expertise as Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria? Honestly, NO!

    You see, we keep telling you people to stop jumping on brown envelops. When we elect you to represent us, do so conscientiously and stop thinking about your bellies. You may fill your bellies today, but tomorrow your children and grandchildren may not be able to fill their bellies. Your emolument is a decent wage, live within it and use it expeditiously.

    Ghana holds 30% of the shares in APM Terminals because the country has the expertise. There are Ghanaians on the board of APM Terminals in Ghana, highly qualified Ghanaians work with APM Terminals and so about 80% of what APM Terminals generates in Ghana stays in Ghana.

    It is high time we rethink our educational system to empower Liberians. Let’s quickly think and build a polytechnic to train our work force, prioritize and sufficiently fund our technical schools to rain in qualified human resources and attract some distinguished Liberian and foreign scholars to give a facelift to our University of Liberia.
    Only in doing these things we can change situations in Liberia overnight. Don’t pretend to be an expert. I can hand you a bogus financial statement and you will NEVER be able to be identified irregularities. Stop being technicians and legislature at the same time. Trust the LRA.

    If you do not want APM Terminals to increase fares, provide incentives or remove the hurdles leading to such increment.
    Do not cripple the already strangling economy, we beg you guys!

    • Agree with your concern half-heartedly. When you consider the undergirding motivation for fast-tracking these agreements by our lawmakers, with kickbacks as prime suspect, then you will understand why we rejoice over the negation of any such arrangements. The dilemma of the investors is regrettable, but whatever was not done right as they say, is not done. Reason why we rejoice.

      • Erratum: The haste to sign these contracts not necessarily eminating from the lawmakers, but some unscrupulous underlings along the corruption belt.

  4. Representatives in names. Nothing to show for the prior years or the other corrupt deeds that have ushered in well meaning companies that get cripple with corruption over time. How many years we have had Firestone and not one latex source product has been produced in the country???

    Corruption has kill and will kill more people in Africa than corona virus!!

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