In an effort to enhance the business climate and provide better opportunities for businesses in Liberia, President George Weah has mandated the National Port Authority (NPA) to cancel demurrage fees at the entity with immediate effect.
Demurrage is a charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship in respect of failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed, which is based on the length of time goods are kept in the facility of a port.
Speaking at the Ministry of Information regular Press briefing in Monrovia recently, Deputy Minister for Public Affairs, Eugene L. Fahngon, disclosed that the initiative of the President is intended to alleviate some of the constraints faced by businesses in the clearing of their containers from the Free Port of Monrovia.
Fahngon lamented that exorbitant fees charged for failure to clear goods from the port on a timely basis has negatively impacted the economy of Liberia, adding that it stops a lot of people from bringing goods into the country.
He added that the act has also contributed to the decline and subsequent closure of businesses that are unable to afford such fees, noting: “If a person cannot pay the first US$40.00 for the first five days then how will that person pay by increasing said amount to US$60.00 for the next couple of days?”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information official also revealed that President Weah has mandated the NPA management to proceed with a 20-day clearance for businesses that have goods stuck at the port for demurrage fees for a reasonable and affordable amount.
Fahngon disclosed that there are over 200 containers at the port that are not cleared because of demurrage fees and further encouraged the owners of those containers to take advantage of the 20-day clearance timeframe provided by the President of Liberia.
“In the next 20 days, you are advised by Presidential mandate to proceed to the port and clear your containers. You will be given the opportunity to clear your containers instead of them being auctioned. They will be given to you for little of nothing,” Fahngon stressed.
According to Fahngon, the President has also mandated the NPA to open its operations to the public seven days a week, 24 hours a day to address the issue of delinquency in the clearing of goods from the port.
Fahngon assured Liberians that the Government of Liberia is going to put the necessary mechanisms into place to ensure a policy shift which is geared at improving the economy of the country.
Fahngon stressed that the demurrage fees, Import Permit Declaration, amongst others, were not formulated by the Weah-led government, but rather inherited by the President and promised that the Government will shortly introduce a policy shift that will subsequently address those challenges.
“President Weah remains committed to bringing relief to the Liberian people in whatever way shape and manner that is legally acceptable to do” said Fahngon.