Business People Divided Over PATEL Protest Action, As Some Shows Defiance, But PATEL Issues Statement

Mr. Presley Tenwah

As the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia or PATEL enters its day one protest action; ordering all businesses to remain close until demands put forward to the Liberian Government are met as was done few months ago paralyzing most businesses, today’s action seems not to gain grounds with some owners of businesses putting up a defiance posture by opening their stores to the public.

During a tour of the city of Monrovia and its environs, some stores were still closed in support of PATEL protest action, while others resolved to open their doors to the buying public, noting that their action to remain open to the public is a result of appeal from the Chamber of Commerce asking them not to join any protest action.

“As much I supported the action of PATEL the first time it was announced, this time I will not join to do same, the reason is several stakeholders have appealed to the leadership of PATEL including members of the House of Representatives, and even our own Chamber of Commerce to abort this protest this time, still our leadership has refused to see reason. I will not close my business this time,” Loreta Flomo, a local shop owner speaking to our reporter said.

But for Jackson Harmon, a used clothes wholesale dealer said he supports the action of PATEL, noting, “Increased taxes imposed by the Liberian Government is causing us lots of distress back with the continued climbing of the US dollar rate against the Liberian dollar,” he told our reporter in a chat.

For its part, the leadership of PATEL said it will remain resolute in its protest action for the coming days until the Liberian Government see reason to relax the high tariff on imported goods and the reduction of the exchange rate which is currently on what he called a ‘4G’ speed.

Speaking to reporters in Monrovia, Mr. Presley Tenwah said the protest will remain in full until the demands of the group are met by the Liberian Government.

Below is a full statement issued today:

Day one of our go-slow action

April 10, 2017

Fellow Liberians,

The business community and our various trade partners that are trading within the length and breadth of The Republic Liberia, we bring you greetings.

We, The Executives of The Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) wishes to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciations to you all in observance of the first day of our go slow action intended to make the government take speedy action in addressing some, if not, all of our plights that the business community is faced with as stated within our Press Release dated April 9, 2017.

Let it be known to all Business institutions that this fight is not about PATEL and its members, but intended solely for all well-meaning Liberian that are one way or the others affected by whatever actions we have taken today. The counts that we listed are all problems faced by our businesses on a daily basis, which are intern transferred to the consuming public, thereby creating extreme hardship in the country; they are visible and there is nothing to hide about them.

We want to use this medium to dispel the misinformation being circulated by the Ministers of Justice and Information. If our claims that led to the first 3 days stand down were addressed as claimed by them, there would be no need for further strike action within this short period of time owing to the fact that, the government is been run by human beings like ourselves.

We want to make it categorically clear that the government has in no way addressed any of the six counts presented to them on January 31, 2017 that has significantly impact the business community. All they have been doing is promises throughout the series of meetings we’ve been having with them.

To the issue of the legitimacy of PATEL, we want to inform the general populace that PATEL is a registered trade union organization that is registered under the Laws of the Republic of Liberia, with Articles of Incorporations, By-laws and constitution with this very government.

We want to in this public manner inform the government that we elected to govern us, that this is not a fight that will result to violence or carrying of guns. We do not intend to challenge or denigrate the government, all we want is for the government to respond positively to our plights. Inciting the business community against one another, threating your own fellow Liberians as you are doing, will further scare investors, create a state of pandemonium, etc more than PATEL’s go slow actions would. “Let us stop the fight and address the issues at stake instead of politicizing it as they’re doing”.

Let us return to a peaceful discourse by signing trade agreements with tentative dates for your course of action regarding the unjustified increase in tariffs to reductions and our people will resume business as usual.

We want to use this medium to encourage our business communities who were intimidated, coerced and made to open today against their will to please adhere to the call of PATEL if we should achieve the desire results that we ought to achieve. Please close your businesses and stay home.

We want to say to our members, affiliates and well-meaning Liberians that we consider our today action as a success for the fact that majority adhered to the call to keep their businesses closed despite the intimidation from our government. We are urging you to remain steadfast and let us all hold together to see the change that we want to see happen in our country. Remember, men chained together are brothers.

United we stand, divided we fall. Let us hold together and let no one penetrate us anymore. Let us learn from our mistakes and come up to make tomorrow better than today.

We thank you, we want to assure you that we are with you and the struggle continues until our leaders can say and do something.

Once again, thumbs up for the Liberian business community.

Mentee T. Gbeimie


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About Cholo Brooks 15818 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.