Liberian Capitol City Locked Up, Situation Overwhelm Residents

lockMonrovia, Africa’s oldest capital city has been locked up with no semblance of business activities taken place as a result of the planned three days protest action by the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL in demand of the reduction of the high rate of exchange between the United States Dollars and the Liberian Dollars.

“This is the first time for the City of Monrovia to be knocked down like this; all the stores and other business centers including supermarkets have been closed as a result of this protest. The Liberian Government must see reason to address the plight of its citizens,” words of David Daniels a residents of Monrovia speaking to our reporter noted.

As Liberians patiently wait for the expiration of this day, organizers of this protest have announced that it will continue for additional two days, if the Government fails to address their demands in handling the issue of the exchange rate between the United States Dollars and the Liberian Dollars.

Prince Howard, Executive Director of PATEL reading the statement
Prince Howard, Executive Director of PATEL reading the statement

As today’s protest continue, our reporter who visited the city center observed that in some parts of the City, the exchange rate is gradually dropping from 115LD to 1US to 98LD to 1USD, a situation many Liberian business people who spoke to our reporter described as welcomed news.

Earlier on Capitol Hill this morning, members of the PATEL in their hundreds trooped to the Capitol Building presented their petition to members of the National Legislature.

Some ordinary Liberians who spoke to the GNN during a street survey interview urged the Liberian Government to address the economy policy of the Country which goes with the increment of the exchange rate between the United Dollars and the Liberian Dollars.

Some members of PATEL holding Placards at the Capitol Builsing
Some members of PATEL holding Placards at the Capitol Builsing

“You see this Government believes in people mountain pressure on it before taken action; like the issue of the rate climbing so high. I even want this strike action to go for if possible one week,” Another Liberian petty trader in a chat with our reporter noted.

“This protest which have overwhelmed Monrovia and its environs may likely make the Liberian Government to lose millions of United States Dollars in revenue, and if not addressed it may also cripple the economy”, Jayson Q. Wiles, a Liberian economist speaking on this issue stressed.

In their three-page petition to the Liberian Legislature and read by the Executive Director of PATEL, Prince Howard read:

Whereas, Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution, guarantees that “all persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceful manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct the representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and associate fully with other or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions, and other organizations.

Whereas, we the member and officials of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia as representatives of small Liberian businesses have the right and responsibilities to advocate for the rights and privileges of our members;

Whereas, it is our rights to assemble at all times in an orderly manner to raise serious public interest concern about the tariffs and other incidental taxes being placed on goods imported into Liberia by the Liberian businesses something which is negatively impacting the growth and development of small Liberian businesses;

Whereas, all peaceful dialogues geared are amicably resolving the imposition of high tariffs on small Liberian businesses have failed and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has not shown any interest in helping to listen to our grievances and other concerns;

Whereas, the continued hiking in US Dollar against the  Liberian Dollars is not only imposing further hardship on Liberian businesses and making it difficult if not impossible to meet the high tax regime;

Whereas, there is no specific tax regime exclusively set aside for small Liberian businesses and efforts to have the government do so have fallen on deaf ears and as a result small Liberian businesses have been taxed like any other businesses;

Whereas, the goods of petty traders, Yana boys and other Liberian businesses have been continually harassed, seized and taken away by members of the Liberian National Police, Monrovia City Police and the Paynesville City Police without any redress;

Whereas, Liberian businesses are doing business in Liberian Dollars but are required by the LRA to pay taxes in US dollars and all efforts made to remedy this situation have failed; and

Whereas, the Paynesville City Corporation continues to levy municipal taxes in the amount of US$250 to US$450 and now US$500 in a irregular form contrary to taxes imposed by the central government and will close down business entities that refuse to pay such taxes;

And now therefore:

We have resolved to petition the 53rd Legislature of the Republic of Liberia for its earnest consideration of the following to wit:

  1. That all Liberian Businesses should be classed in a specific group amongst the four categories of tariffs, mainly to pay a flat rate on all goods imported from 0-5% (Zero-Five Percent)

 

  1. That there should be a single custom examination before any payment rather than the multiple examination of goods that is being conducted with separate and distinct payment of taxes;

 

  1. That the constant police brutality on petty traders, retailers and Yana boys and illegal seizure of their goods be stopped immediately and that the Ministry of Commerce must ensure that wholesalers should not at the same time do retailing to avoid influx of retailers on the streets;

 

  1. That immediate measures be taken to tackle and stabilize the constant fluctuation in the US dollar and against the Liberian dollar on the local market to avoid further hardships to Liberian businesses;

 

  1. That Liberian businesses be given exclusive retailer rights since they are the majority in the retailing sector; and

 

  1. That the City Government of Paynesville be immediately instructed to desist from imposing municipal fees far higher than the normal business registration, and should be made to account for all municipal fees collected for the last one year.

Therefore, we the members and officials of PATEL representing all small Liberian businesses through the Republic of Liberia, hereby request an immediate and unconditional audience with the requisite committee (s) of this august body to provide detail information regarding the plight of the Liberian businesses in order to find an amicable solution

Given under our hands this 31st day of January A.D. 2017 in the city of Monrovia, County of Montserrado, Republic of Liberia.

This petition was signed by Presly Tenwah, National Chairman and approved by     Prince S.P. Howard, Executive Director of PATEL

The petition was received by Pro-Temp Armah Jallah who assured them that their request contain in this petition will be addressed after meeting his colleagues.

Also present during the presentation of their  petition were Justice Minister Frederick Cherue, Commerce Minister Axel Addy; LRA`s Elfrieda Tamba; Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Adolphus Forkpa; Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) Commissioner, Lemuel Reeves and Chairperson on Commerce at the House of Representatives, Samuel Koga

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About Cholo Brooks 13149 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.