The House of Representatives has summoned the Bureau Veritas, Inspection, Valuation, Assessment and Control (BIVAC) under a contempt charge to respond to issues relating to their operations in Liberia and the 9.67% increment of cargo goods levied by APM Terminals.
The contempt charge comes as a result of BIVAC’s failure on two occasions to appear before the House’s Plenary on Tuesday and Thursday, January 26 and 28 respectively after being invited.
Last Tuesday, the House voted to cancel the 9.67% increment tariff levied by APM Terminals.
The House’s Plenary, through a motion proffered by Margibi County District #2 Representative Ivar Jones, mandated its Chief Clerk to officially communicate its contemptuous charge to BIVAC and also invite the management to appear before the full Plenary of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. The management is being advised to come with a lawyer.
The House also instructed Sergeant-at-arms Martin Johnson to serve as courier.
The House’s contempt charge is in accordance with section 4.1 of its standing rules that says: “Contempt of the Legislature shall consist of actions which obstruct the Legislative function or which obstruct or impede members or officers of the Legislature in the discharge of their Legislative duties,” and is punishable by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars (US$5,000.00) and/or imprisonment in a common jail for not more than one month or the duration of the current session of the House; after a hearing consistent with due process of law. Decisions rendered from contempt charges are not appealable.”
This will be the second contempt charge for BIVAC in two years. In 2018, the House invited BIVAC on a contempt charge for failing to adhere to an invitation by the Committee on Commerce and Trade.
On May 24, 2018, the committee on commerce complained BIVAC to the plenary of the House of Representatives, raising issues about their operation in Liberia.
The committee on commerce said after their investigation and hearing from stakeholders including importers, they established that BIVAC International has employed unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks causing importers to experience a hard time whilst importing goods into Liberia.
Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar, Chairman of the House’s Committee on Commerce, said BIVAC has understated its profits over the years and it was important for them to appear before the House to determine what has been the government’s fair share from 1999 to present, as it relates to such a taxation arrangement.
As part of the mandate from the plenary of the House ofRepresentatives, they requested that the Government of Liberia places a moratorium on the operations of BIVAC International until the right thing is put into place.
Meanwhile, the House has also voted to remind APM Terminals to bring copies of its audited financial documents from 2011 to 2020 on Monday, February 1.
APM Terminal has also been requested to bring their Articles of Incorporation and list of their partners.