Bankers indict loan officers
Members of the Business Climate Working group have been identifying problems affecting businesses in Liberia, including unethical behavior of loan officers, who demand shares from creditors, and lack of trust between banks and investors.
Panelists from a two-day business climate forum held in Ganta, Nimba County over the weekend on the theme: “Resolving Constraints”, called for reform of laws and regulations that govern the processes of doing business in Liberia.
The forum was attended by government officials and partners from the private sector aimed at identifying problems and coming up with possible solutions.
In his presentation, the President of the Bankers’ Association of Liberia, John Davis, notes there are lots of issues that make getting credit difficult here noting that loan officers are allegedly demanding shares on loan sought thereby, leaving borrowers with no alternative but to provide fake titles as collateral.
Mr. Davis, who is also President/CEO of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) says it is always difficult for a bank to access the legality of a title.
For his part, Cllr. Mark Marvey of Heritage and Associates, says one reason why it is difficult to enforce contracts is lack of trust between banks and investors in the country.
He explains that bank officials are fully aware of the deficiency of a collateral but yet still, they would connive with borrowers to disburse such loan.
Cllr. Marvey also blames the court system for not addressing cases on time, arguing that “When people take the law into their own hand, it is simply because they have no confidence in the court system.”
Organizers of the forum, say the next step is to develop an action matrix that will outline challenges and possible solutions in improving the business climate.
President George Manneh Weah constituted the Business Climate Working in October, 2018. Since then the group has been working with both the public and private sectors in addressing constraints that impede a business-friendly environment.
The next forum is expected to focus on cross border trade after which a final report will be presented to the Chair of the Group, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, for onward submission to President Weah.
Making remarks earlier, the Mayor of Gompa City, in Nimba, Amos Nyan Suah, note that the people of Nimba and Gompa particularly were happy to host such a big business climate meeting in the county. Mayor Suah expressed optimism that the forum will be fruitful and rewarding.
Liberia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh, welcomed participants to the discussion, and expressed optimism that Liberia’s performance in doing business will improve.
Finance Minister Tweah, says he was elated about the workshop and the level of participation.
Tweah expresses appreciation to the Liberia Bankers’ Association, the Judiciary, private sector, donor community, the press and others for responding to the Ministry’s request to attend the forum.
House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, lauds efforts of the organizers of the forum, and admonishes the participants that uplifting especially, the conditions for banking and doing business was a manifestation of the government’s Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development or PADP.
Speaker Chambers stresses the need to make significant intervention in the Agricultural sector, including re-introduction of those models that worked before. He calls for support for local business people, and reducing most of the conundrums in getting credits.
Speaking on behalf of Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Judge Eva Mappy says the Chief Justice Korkpor was honored to see members of the three branches of government gathering to deliberate on issues that are viable to improving the business climate in Liberia.
Judge Mappy assures the forum that businesses should rely on judges, adding government’s commitment is evident by the establishment of the Commercial Court Act and the court itself Elisabeth Harleman, Deputy Head of the Swedish Embassy here, thanks the workshop organizers and assures them of the Sweden’s financial support to have a favorable business environment. She emphasizes the need to put in place rules that are straight forward and the need for more female participation in such meetings.