The Liberian business community, under the umbrella of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), has been strongly advised to abort the planned nationwide shutdown beginning Monday, April 10.
The Plenary of the House of Representatives, through the Chairman on the Committee on Commerce and Industry, Representative Samuel G. Kogar, said the strike is wrong, illegal, baseless and irresponsible.
The Commerce Committee chairman further said the nationwide strike would undermine the security and economy of the country, stressing that it has the propensity to drive foreign investors away.
The Nimba County District #5 Representative told newsmen yesterday in his Capitol Building office that since its petition to the House of Representatives, which was forwarded to the Joint Committee on Commerce and Industry and Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning, the Committee has had public hearings and has addressed about 90 percent of its appeals.
Rep. Kogar said the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) and the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) have assured the House of Representatives of modifying or revising their methods to satisfy PATEL’s petition.
The negotiation between the Legislature and PATEL didn’t fail; significant progress was made, Rep. Kogar said.
In a recent petition, PATEL urged the Legislature to immediately look into the imposition of high tariffs on goods imported to Liberia, the constant rise of the rate of the US dollar on the market and the harassment of petty traders by police.
Regarding the Common Extended Tariff (CET) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that PATEL argued would be a bad law, Rep. Kogar said their appeal has been forwarded to the appropriate authority and has been brought to the attention of ECOWAS for certain dispensation.
“The appeal has been made to ECOWAS, because of the postwar status, and there will be consideration,” Rep. Kogar said.
The Nimba lawmaker said amid the consideration, the ECOWAS CET would be ratified as it aims to ensure transparency and facilitate the ease of doing business in the sub-region.
Meanwhile, the executive council and members of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) yesterday called on the Liberian business community, including members of PATEL, to obey the law while conciliatory discussions continue with the Government.
In a release yesterday, the LCC appealed to the business community to continue their normal activities to sustain the gradual recovery process and on-going efforts to create a more stable, predictable and globally competitive business environment.
The LCC reminded the business community that Liberia’s recent history has shown that disagreements between Government agencies and the business community are not resolved by resorting to strike actions and other similar activities intended to force the Government to take action desired by the business sector.
“In fact the results and conditions turn out to be far more severe and damaging. Our economy and peaceful environment for the conduct of business is fragile, as a result of global economic downturns and inadequate domestic infrastructure and capacity,” the LCC said.
The LCC acknowledged that some of the concerns raised by PATEL need attention. “We urge them to take advantage of the mechanisms and systems available for peaceful advocacy and dialogue with the Government, such that in the process we do not lose what we have, no matter how small,” the LCC said.
“Therefore, in the spirit of peace and reconciliation, especially in this period heading to the scheduled national elections, the executive council and members of the LCC hereby appeal to all of its members and other business persons and associations to refrain from engaging in any demonstration, strike, closure of business, or acts of violence at any time during the coming days, weeks, and months.”
The LCC said its urgent appeal is to the public following an urgent meeting between the Ministry of Justice and representatives of the LCC and other Liberian business organizations.
“Please obey the law whilst conciliatory discussions continue with the Government. And the business community is urged to continue their normal activities to sustain the gradual recovery process and ongoing efforts to create a more stable, predictable and globally competitive business environment,” the LCC statement said.
It can be recalled that the Liberian business community under the leadership of PATEL announced a nationwide strike to lockdown the country, beginning April 10.
The action, it said, was due to the failure of the government to respond to their recent concerns. However, the Plenary of the House said 90 percent of PATEL’s concerns have been addressed and therefore there is no need for any nationwide strike action.