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Liberia: Unfair and Additional Burden!

Two business groups in Liberia have described a third-party engagement charge of 1.2% on imported commodities with Metech Scientific as unfair and an additional burden.

The Fula Business Association and the National Customs Brokers Association of Liberia (NCBAL) held a joint press conference in Monrovia on Tuesday, 26 March 2024, to lament the charge.

Fula Business Association president Mr. Mohammed Barry said that in 2021, Metech Scientific surfaced in the business community and raised the 1.2% on imported goods to 3%, which they rejected.

According to him, the company has been collecting 1.2% for over two years, and up to now, there has been no up-to-date documentary scanning machine, as instructed by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

He said warehouses haven’t been constructed, among other things, for which the money is collected.

“We expect them to construct a warehouse that will accommodate 50 containers by now. So, they have been collecting free money, coupled with other challenges surrounding our engagement with BIVAC,” Mr. Barry told journalists.

Moreover, he claimed that instead of the three-day maximum that the Government of Liberia requires, processing will take two to three weeks because Metech Scientific is the only office that receives documents.

Therefore, he called on the Government of Liberia, through President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, to stop business as usual.

He stressed that they don’t need Metech Scientific because the Liberia Revenue Authority can perform that responsibility, which was allegedly outsourced to the company.

Mr. Barry recommended that the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) either maintain Metech and get rid of Customs or remove Metech Scientific and maintain Customs to do the job.

He also lamented an alleged inappropriate regulation required by the shipping line. He said the business community needs 24-hour services at the Freeport of Monrovia to enhance business activities in the country.

Also speaking at the press conference, the Secretary of the National Customs Brokers Association of Liberia, Mr. Morris Kiatamba, decried the deplorable condition of Metech Scientific’s services.

He further stressed that the World Trade Organization frowns on third-party arrangements, noting that the third party denies the government rightful revenue.

Kiatamba stated that Metech Scientific’s work is an outsourced role given by the LRA, which further imposes an extra burden on businesses.

He also spoke of the Ministry of Commerce’s function being allegedly overlooked by Metech Scientific.

“Under President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s new administration, we need to have no third-party arrangement, which the WTO detests. Let’s deal with the transaction-level value, which is an approved global standard,” Mr. Kiatamba suggested.

Speaking on the shipping line, he mentioned that Liberia is the only country where the legal tender has been nullified for transactions in paying for services with these companies.

Mr. Kiatamba saw this as a technical barrier to trade and called on the Government of Liberia to intervene.

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