US$21M Signature Fees for LISCR Amendment Deal

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The Commissioner of Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) Mr. Binyan Kesselley has disclosed that the country would benefit  by US$21M as a signature bonus fee from the Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry(LISCR,LLC)  if the amended agreement is signed into law.

The LMA Commissioner, who is also its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said the money would greatly help the country in its effort to restore the economy following the scourge of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

He stated that US$1M would be used to construct a maritime institute in Marshall, Margibi County and the amendment would also make the agent (LISCR) to upgrade the school free of charge to be on par with other maritime schools in the world.

Commissioner Kesselley made the observation on Friday during at a Joint Public Hearing on the Amendment to the Extended Restated Agency Agreement between the Liberian Government and LISCR, for about 15 years.

 Commissioner Kesseley stated that besides the US$21M, the country will further benefit from its net program revenues, amongst others.

The Maritime boss said the program, retaining LISCR as its agent, would continue to give the country economic benefits.

In 1949, the Liberian government and the International Trust Company of Liberia entered into an agreement to take over its Maritime Program. The Agency Agreement was extended until December 1999, when the Government changed its Agent to LISCR.

The Agreement was signed for 10 years, and it is still in force owing to the ratification of the extended and Restated Agency Agreement which ended in 2009 by way of the issuance of a “letter of no objection.”

However, the Dean and Professor of Law at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, Cllr. David A.B. Jallah in his argument said the extension of the contract is reasonable, if the relationship between the Liberian government and LISCR is equitable, just and fair.

Cllr. Jallah, who is also the General Counsel and Vice President  of the University  of Liberia, said the proposed 33% of the net program revenues for LISCR should be reduced, considering the fact that the Agent  (LISCR) almost exclusively manages the affairs of the program, including expenditures relating to its operations.

Cllr. Jallah also questioned why the Agreement should limit the auditing of the books and records of the Liberian Registry, which should only be performed by an internationally-recognized audit firm.

“We do not understand why the auditing firm is restricted to US based firms,” Cllr. Jallah said. “We believe that there is a need for this provision to be closely examined.”

For his part, Acting Minister for Finance and Development Planning, Dr. James Kollie, praised the extension as rewarding.

The Public Hearing was organized by the Committees on Maritime, Ways, Means and Finance and Judiciary from both Houses. Senator Dallas A.V. Gueh, Chairman, Senate Committee on Maritime, and co-chair Rep. Thomas Fallah, Chairman on the House’s Maritime Committee, headed it.

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