The Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), representing all businesses and Trade Union Organizations in Liberia, to include the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), PATEL, Fula Business Association (FBA), World Lebanese Culture Union, Indian Association, Customs Brokers Association, etc, has sent out caution notes to the Government and the wider public about the pending economic hardship, if the NPA continues with the planned implementation of the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN), which is to be carried out by the Global Maritime Tracking Solution (GTMS).
The LCC believes that this action is not only an additional financial burden to businesses and consumers, but duplicating requirements that are already being complied to by the importers of cargos into the country. It also makes shipping to Liberia more expensive for suppliers outside of Liberia.
The Liberia Chamber of Commerce has also pointed out that this new requirement adds no value to export and import in Liberia. The essence is only to allow one company make money from importers and exporters’ own information generated during their purchases and sales internationally. Up until now, there is no clear indication on how much the fees per container is likely to be, as GTMS, in its own presentation at the LCC indicated it would charge up to 120 Euros per container, whilst Suppliers have stated that they are being charged up to 480 Euros per container.
The National Port Authority (NPA) is planning to start this process by February this year, ignoring the concerns of the LCC which were communicated to them in a letter dated January 25, 2019, addressed to the National Ports Authority. Because of this action, the suppliers are currently refusing to ship pending cargos until the issue can be sorted out. This means that, the current commodities on the market, when consumed, will create scarcity, since there will be no immediate imports to replace same.
It should also be noted that GTMS as a company, unlike BIVAC, is fully not prepared to take on this new challenge since they do not have representatives around the world. They will simply rely on importers’ own documents to provide the service they proposed to deliver. Clearly, the online platform that GTMS is keen to introduce cannot guarantee any due diligence in comparison with the existing BIVAC, Commerce and ASSYCUDA systems are offering.
All of these issues raised by member businesses and groups have pushed the LCC to call for meetings with relevant authorities in trying to better present their dissatisfaction with this new measure which will have a trickled down on the already challenged business climate.
At this point, the LCC, in good faith, is still calling on the Government to give them audience to have this issue harmonized before it escalates into something else that could create hard feelings between and amongst stakeholders of the economy.