The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has dismissedclaims that it is allegedly selling Import Permit Declarations (IPDs) to some businesses, challenging anyone who has a receipt for purchase of IPDs to make it public.
At a press conference Wednesday, 10 April, Deputy Minister for Commerce and Trade Services Mr. A.E. Nyema Wisner says nowhere at the Ministry of Commerce, Finance, Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and the Bureau Veritas (BIVAC) that IPDs are being sold.
According to him, IPD was introduced here in 1986 to be able to tell government what comes in and what goes out of the country, [with respect to the import or exports of goods].
Minister Wisner wonders where the information is coming from that IPDs are being sold.
He recalls that the moment BIVAC took over IPDs, former Commerce Minister MiattaBeysolow cut the sale of IPDs [during former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s administration].
According to him, Madam Beysolow informed the sitting government at the time that IPDs could no longer be sold because BIVAC brought them to the Ministry free.
“Since then, there has been no sale of IPDs in this country,” he clarifies.
Under the new administration of President George Manneh Weah, the Minister indicates that it was observed that the movement of IPDs were too old fashion, prompting a change in the entire scope of IPDs.
As part of that change, Mr. Wisner says the time it took to process IPDs was initially cut down from 78 hours to 12 hours.
Further, he says the Ministry was just about to launch phase two of the program which would have seen IPDs processing time transformed from 12 hours to 4 hours before the allegations of IPDs sale began to emerge.
Following his assessment of the IPDs process, Mr. Wisner reveals that the Ministry brought in data system which has never existed in the 33 years of the existence of IPDs here.
Under the new mechanism put in place, Minister Wisner continues that if he is asked, he can tell how many containers of sugar are in country in 30 to 45 minutes just by going into the system.
Expressing his frustration over claims of IPDs being allegedly sold, Mr. Wisner frowns against those tarnishing other people’s character, as well as the image of the government.
Concerning report about a ban on importation of certain commodities here, Mr. Wisner explains that the Ministry came up with the temporary ban to be able to re-strategize for 6 months to establish the impact of the different imported commodities against locally produced commodities.
He noted that the Ministry realized that supermarkets were importing and selling low [level] biscuits that are being locally manufactured by Tiba Biscuit Factory.
He narrates that merchants bring in containers of these commodities for their supermarkets and sell them at low prices like $10LRD, affecting the local manufacturers of similar petty commodities.
On the overall, he says it could impact the local companies in ways that they may consider laying off Liberian employees due to challenges.By Winston W. Parley