Economic hardship looms
The Liberian Chambers of Commerce (LCC) has warned of an economic hardship here if authorities at the National Port Authority or NPA move ahead with its plan to implement a new cargo tracking scheme introduced by the Global Maritime Tracking Solution (GTMS.
In a statement issued over the weekend, the LCC which memberships comprises all businesses and Trade Union Organizations in the country to include the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), PATEL, Fula Business Association (FBA), World Lebanese Culture Union, Indian Association, Customs Brokers Association, etc, said such a new measure would not only place additional financial burden to businesses and consumers, but duplicating requirements that are already being complied to by the importers of cargos into the country.
The LCC noted that such scheme if carry out, would also make shipping to Liberia more expensive for suppliers outside of the country.
The Liberia Chamber of Commerce also pointed out that this new requirement adds no value to export and import in Liberia.
It said the essence is only to allow one company make money from importers and exporters’ own information generated during their purchases and sales internationally. Up until now, there is no clear indication on how much the fees per container is likely to be, as GTMS, in its own presentation at the LCC indicated it would charge up to 120 Euros per container, whilst Suppliers have stated that they are being charged up to 480 Euros per container.
The NPA is planning to start this process by end of February this year, ignoring the concerns of the LCC which were communicated to them in a letter dated January 25, 2019, addressed to the Ports’ authority, the statement added.
The Liberian business umbrella said because of this action, the suppliers are currently refusing to ship pending cargos until the issue can be sorted out. This means that, the current commodities on the market, when consumed, will create scarcity, since there will be no immediate imports to replace same.
It should also be noted that GTMS as a company, unlike BIVAC, is fully not prepared to take on this new challenge since they do not have representatives around the world. They will simply rely on importers’ own documents to provide the service they proposed to deliver. Clearly, the online platform that GTMS is keen to introduce cannot guarantee any due diligence in comparison with the existing BIVAC, Commerce and ASSYCUDA systems are offering.
All of these issues raised by member businesses and groups have pushed the LCC to call for meetings with relevant authorities in trying to better present their dissatisfaction with this new measure which will have a trickled down on the already challenged business climate.
At this point, the LCC, in good faith, is still calling on the Government to give them audience to have this issue harmonized before it escalates into something else that could create hard feelings between and amongst stakeholders of the economy.