Several foreign owned businesses are said to be leaving Liberia due to what they termed as ‘Unsuitable business climate’ finding their way to neighboring countries like Sierra Leone and Guinea in a bid to seek improved business situation, GNN investigation has discovered.
During a survey conducted by our team of reporters in Monrovia and its environs as to the current economic situation in the country, it was observed that several businesses have closed down, mainly that of Lebanese and other foreign nationals owned, describing the current economic situation in the country as ‘unbearable’.
Some of those that are still in the country many of whom who spoke to our reporters on the account of anonymous, complained that one of the reasons that are affecting the business sector is the high racketing of the exchange rate of United States Dollar to Liberian Dollar, and the high fees being charged at the National Port Authority (NPA) for importing goods into the country.
“We as business people are feeling the pinch of what is happening now; and nothing is been done or said by the government to address itself to this current crisis; no serious businessman who want to do business should do it at a lost,” one of Lebanese business tycoon who said he has been in Liberia for over five decades and prayed to remain anonymous in a chat with our reporters said.
“It is difficult to say my brother, doing business in Liberia nowadays is a challenge,” another foreign businessman who appeared worried during an interaction with a team of GNN, complained. He said his overseas partners are also complaining of the huge charges being imposed locally, and have resolved not to supply his company anymore, noting that most time charges being imposed cannot afford to us to settle our overseas bills.”
Recent reported attempts by National Security Agency (NSA) inviting some members of the country’s business community for questioning coupled with alleged deportation of an Indian businessman and president of the Indian Community in Liberia, and also the unceremonious invitation extended to the Vice President of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) who is also a Lebanese business tycoon by the NSA few months ago is scaring.
According to GNN investigation, as a result of the invitation extended this Lebanese businessman by the NSA and allegedly questioning him, has reportedly compelled him to surrender his position as Vice President of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce; this news which spread like wildfire made many owners foreign owned businesses who were members of the Chamber to tenured in their resignation.
As a result of the mass resignation of these foreigners at the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, has reportedly crippled the operations of the Chamber, leaving the entity completely empty with its operations stalled, “The Chamber is not functional as compare to yesteryears due to the mass resignation of many of its foreign owned business membership for fear of being called in by the NSA as was done to their colleagues,” an executive of the Chamber who also preferred not to be named in a chat with the GNN said.
Some of the Liberian owned business executives who also spoke to the GNN complained of strangulation, and also ‘sidelined’ by the CDC-led government for their reported link with the former ruling Unity Party (UP) and throwing their voting weight behind the candidacy of Joseph Boakai during the 2017 general and presidential election that brought the CDC to power.
The owners of these Liberian owned business entities, many of whom who spoke to our team of reporters have expressed frustration over the way they are being treated by their owned government, “Some of us have been sidelined because we voted for Unity Party during the 2017 election that brought President George Weah to power, my business is not been patronized because I voted for the Unity Party”, a Liberian business executive who spoke to the GNN and asked not to be named said.
“My intention is to completely sell out all the businesses I have, there is no need to keep running my generator which carries 500 gallons daily without a single customer is a complete lost to my revenue, a Liberian in the hospitality industry in a chat with the GNN said in a rather dejected state.
The Liberian Government of President George Weah must see reason in providing open incentives to the business community, and also see how best the issue of the growing wave exchange rate can be controlled, because the success of any country’s revenue growth is satisfactory payment of taxes by the business sector, which will help to boost the economic growth of that growth, and address the needs of its people.