MoCI Announces New Policies, Measures

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Commerce Inspector Josephine Davis (R) and Minister Wilson Tarpeh (middle) at a press conference in Monrovia.

-Warns businesses against violation

Minister of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), Wilson K. Tarpeh, has announced major policy and measures, including price tagging, displaying of the exchange rate at major business centers and accepting Liberian dollars for goods and services in the commerce.

Minister Tarpeh made the disclosure on Monday, July 1, 2019 at a press conference in Monrovia when he said that the measure is part of the Pro-poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD), which is geared to support and provide good business atmosphere for all.

It can be recalled that on April 10, 2019, President George Weah issued Executive Order #96, which removed the need for the importers to use import permit declaration (IPD) prior to pre-shipment inspection.

According to Tarpeh, IPD was instituted to notify the government of incoming shipments and therefore follow it to monitor goods for the safety of the Liberian people.

Mr. Tarpeh said the IPD regime was instituted 34 years ago. To make it possible for government to allocate scarce foreign exchange to the need of the economy to ensure the effective administration of the Executive Order, the government has implemented a simplify transparent and more efficient system called import notification form (INF.)

“Immediately after the Executive Order was issued, businesses started to inform the ministry about their imports and gradually withdrew from the IPD system. Additionally, there were some IPDs already in the system, which we made sure were cleared from the port,” Minister Tarpeh said.

“The MoCI has instituted INF, which is an administrative document that serves only to notify the government of any incoming shipment without the need for approval of importing such goods. The purpose is to inform the government of incoming shipment to enable inspectors to monitor and regulate the current stock of goods in the country, and to simplify and increase the efficiency of the import processes to facilitate business and consumers prices,” Tarpeh said.

He said the INF differs from the IPD system in several ways, because the INF increases the efficiency of the import process, and the form can be filled out online in minutes, printed out and taken to BIVAC for pre-shipment inspection. “The INF,” he added, “does not require signature or approval by MoCI if the information matches the invoice of the shipment; and cannot be rejected by Commerce Ministry or BIVAC.”

He said that only businesses in good standing with the MoCI and the government will have the opportunity to do such.

“INF is free of charge and can be delivered online simultaneously.” He said the form can also be completed manually at the consumer center at the commerce ministry, especially for those who do not have access to internet.

He reminded businesses that BIVAC remains the agency to conduct pre-shipment inspection, stating the “INF is a key step in the single window, where clearance of goods will take place on a single portal.”

According to him, the government continues to put the interest of the consumers first, while facilitating doing business in Liberia. He further said the government values the safety of the Liberian people above all else and the new measures will be reinforced by the inspectorate division of the ministry of commerce and industry.

Minister Tarpeh recounted the commitment made by President George M. Weah that Liberians will be removed from the spectators’ bench and empowered to play a key role in the commerce of Liberia. This also means that the costs are lowered and simplified to make it possible and easier to business people to conduct their affairs.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tarpeh said Export Permit Declaration continues to be valued, as the Executive Order does not devalue it and will continue to be enforced.

Commenting on the price tags and Liberian dollars, Mr. Tarpeh said the CDC led government has realized that many of its people continue to be paid in Liberian dollars, while some businesses transact only in United States dollars (USD), rejecting the local currency, the Liberian Dollar (LRD).

“This is creating serious commercial challenge for many of our people. We are mandating all businesses operating in the commerce of Liberia to carry on commercial transactions in both currencies (USD and LRD) and prices of everything, both goods and services, should be priced in Liberian dollars and US dollars,” Mr. Tarpeh said.

According to Mr. Tarpeh, violators will be fined in accordance with the law, ranging from LD$50,000 upward.

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