President George Manneh Weah has approved a new schedule which reduces tariffs on a wide range of commodities being imported into the country, a release from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism has said.
The new tariff regime was submitted to the President by the Liberia Revenue Authority’s (LRA) Commissioner-General Elfrieda Tamba in keeping with an earlier mandate to do so within 72 hours.
The schedule takes immediate effect and makes reductions ranging from 81 to 40 percent in over 2000 widely consumed commodities. Some of the reductions include pig feet (81%), chicken feet (63%), vegetable oil (41%), onions (53%), used clothing (41%) and mosquito coil (65%), among others.
The President has therefore mandated the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to urgently implement a concurrent and proportionate reduction in the prices of the affected commodities in order to bring relief to the poor masses.
He warned that any business entity engaging in price hike and profiteering in the wake of the tariff reduction will bear the full weight of the law.
Meanwhile the government said the new tariff regime as approved by the President meets all requirements of the law including the Sections I, II, III and IV of the Act to amend the Act to ratify the ECOWAS Common External Tariff which was passed into law on December 14, 2017 and are fully within the parameters of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) Regime.
The government’s decision and the compliance by the LRA comes in the wake of the Legislature’s position that President Weah’s decision was unilateral without their involvement and therefore it did not meet the Legislature’s approval.
President Weah gave yesterday, May 29 as the deadline for the 72 hours ultimatum to the LRA to ensure that tariffs on basic commodities are reduced. Though there has not been any official position on the Legislature’s statement on the President’s decision, there does not seem to be any misunderstanding between the two branches of government at the moment.
However observers point out that the power to levy taxes which includes import and export duties fall strictly within the purview of the Legislature. They point out that while the reticence of the Legislature on this issue may suggest it is in accord with President Weah’s mandate, it should be correctly observed that such power to levy taxes rests solely with the Legislature which cannot legally divest itself of such a role and neither can it (the Legislature) outsource its power to another branch of government or to any other individual including President Weah himself.