— House Plenary to decide approval on February 4
The House of Representatives has voted unanimously to forward the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority (LACRA) Act of 2016 to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry and the Judiciary to report to Plenary on Tuesday, February 4, 2020.
The House’s decision followed a motion from Montserrado County District #4 Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis, who is also the chairperson on the House’s Committee on Claims and Petitions, after the first reading yesterday during the 6th day of sitting.
The LACRA Act of 2016 was sponsored by Bong County District #5 Representative Edward Karfiah. The Bong County lawmaker is the chairman of the House’s Public Account and Expenditure Committee and also the Joint Public Account and Expenditure Committee.
LACRA was founded through legislation during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The Legislature approved an Act to Amend the Public Executive Law, Chapter 57 Title 12 of the Liberian Code of Laws Revised and the Liberian Produce Marketing Corporation Act of 2014, and that all Acts amendatory thereto abolishing the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) and to establish the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority.
The new law established LACRA as a semi-autonomous agency of the government and shall be under the general supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture. The functions of LACRA are, among other things, to administer and promote the agriculture export trade of Liberia, to increase agriculture productivity competitiveness, value chain development and environmental sustainability, especially for smallholders, including women and youth and to promote a robust, competitive and modernize agriculture sector support of sustainable economic growth and development.
Accordingly, LACRA shall also, among other things, license exporters and serve as advisory and dispute resolution body.
Meanwhile, the 2014 Act of LACRA does not give LACRA the right to export or resume the responsibility of the defunct LPMC.
So, as it stands currently, LACRA does not have the power to market and or export cocoa or coffee as it was done by LMPC, which had the power to market and export cocoa beans and other cash crops from Liberia to generate cash.
“If this act is passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and approved by the President, it will give LACRA the power to exclusively export cocoa and other cash crops from Liberia,” said LACRA communication director, Gordon Garway. “No company in Liberia will have the power or right to export cocoa except LACRA.
“LACRA will establish local buying stations and warehouses across the country. LACRA will be empowered to purchase cocoa and coffee from cocoa and coffee buying companies. These companies will not have the power to export.
“They will only serve as a middle-man between the farms and LACRA. All payments on cocoa and coffee exported by the Authority shall be paid in a transitory account established at the Central Bank of Liberia or a reputable commercial bank.”
He added: “It is about time Liberia makes money from cocoa and coffee.”