Liberia’s Commerce Minister Prof. Wilson Tarpeh has issued regulatory measures here, mandating all business transactions to consider and accept both Liberian and United States Dollars, warning of imposition of huge fines against those rejecting the local currency.
“We are taking this step as a government because this is the normal practice around the world. You cannot operate in any country and reject its currency. The law requires that that is the case, and we intend to re-enforce that. This is not a refusal of the United States Dollars. No,” he said Monday, 1 July in Monrovia.
This regulation comes as Liberians involved in petty trading perpetually suffer at the hands of both foreign and Liberian owned – businesses who prefer financial transactions only in U.S. Dollars or sell at very high rates to those buying in Liberian Dollars due to lack of price control.
Minister Tarpeh says the regulation will take effect as of August 1 this year, and will cover transactions in Liberian Dollars for issuance of licenses, passports and paying of school fees, among other services.
“This government has realized that the vast majority of its citizens are [being] paid in Liberian Dollars, and yet there are some businesses [that] transact only in United States Dollars. This is creating serious commercial challenge for many of our people,” Minister Tarpeh explains.
In order to deal with the situation here, Minister Tarpeh, flanked by his deputies announces the administrative regulation mandating all businesses operating in the Republic of Liberia to carry on all commercial transactions in both Liberian Dollars and United States Dollars as legal tender.
Minister Tarpeh reveals that everything sold here will also be priced in Liberian Dollars, an application of the existing banking law of the Central Bank Act of 1999 which provides that the monetary unit of Liberia shall be the Liberian Dollar which is also the legal tender and currency of the country.
He narrates that the Act mandates that prices for all transactions in Liberia shall be indicated in Liberian Dollars and cents.
He warns that there shall be imposition of fines on individuals and businesses for violation of the regulation, and the fine shall be established and made known to the public, running from $50,000 for first offense and to as high as US$100,000 or more for second offense.
Beyond that, the Minister cautions that there could be suspension or revocation of business license.
According to Minister Tarpeh, consultation is done with the business community here over a long period before whatever regulation is put out to the public from the Ministry.
He boasts of a robust inspectorate at the Ministry as well as the public as the best supporters in ensuring that this regulation succeeds.
Minister Tarpeh tells the public that beginning August 1, when you walk into a store and somebody is selling something that costs US$10.00, for instance, there must be a price in Liberian Dollars.
He calls on the public to inform the Ministry of Commerce [via hotline 0886512224] if a business entity refuses to accept Liberian Dollars for a product that is being sold.
Concerning what will be the Ministry’s intervention when sellers require higher exchange rates for customers that will want to transact in Liberian Dollars, Minister Tarpeh indicates that there are other measures that will be coming to ensure that the Central Bank’s rate is used.
In this case, he indicates that a cushion will be added wherein if the rate is US$1.00 to LD$195, it can be put at about LD$198 to US$1.00 for those buying in Liberian Dollars.
Minister Tarpeh reveals that the administrative regulation being announced has been discussed and harmonized by the appropriate authorities including Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Liberia and it takes effect as of August 1, 2019.
“We believe that these actions that are beginning to rollout will definitely improve the conditions of our people. Difficulties will be there, but [we] stand firm because the president is determined to improve the conditions of our people,” he says.
Meanwhile, Minister Tarpeh discloses that the Ministry of Commerce has introduced an Import Notification Form (INF), an administrative document that serves only to notify the government through the Ministry of Commerce of any incoming shipment without the need for approval.
The INF helps government to monitor and regulate the current status of goods in the country, and to simplify and increase the efficiency of the import processes, among others.By Winston W. Parley