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Foreign Ministry closes black market

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-Resumes vital services to boost government revenues

Liberia’s Foreign Minister Dee – Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. has announced the resumption of vital services for applicants to obtain Apostille or Letter of Authentication, Laissez Passer and Article of Incorporation which will boost government revenues generation, having closed “a general black market” that he says deprived government of needed resources.

“I did indicate to you that the black general market … which we’ve closed [collected] $75 U.S. dollars; $90 U.S. dollars; $150 U.S. dollars. So you can see when $5 U.S. dollars is to be paid, you collect $75 U.S. dollars and even the $5 U.S. dollars that’s supposed to go to government, you don’t even put it there,” Minister Kemayah said Thursday, 25 March.

During a general briefing with officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday which was covered by the media, Minister Kemayah declared that effective Friday, 26 March, “the services in relation to obtaining Corporate Jacket, Apostille and Laissez Passer … will resume.”

He however clarifies that the moratorium placed on the issuance of Laissez Passer remains in force unless for emergency cases where such applications will be reviewed on a case – by – case basis and where appropriate, authorized by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Liberian Foreign Minister explains that it has been a little over a month since he took the necessary actions to suspend these services with the understanding to put in place the appropriate mechanism and regulation that will ensure that Liberians are getting the required taxes or fees on these services so that the much needed revenue can be captured.

For the resumption of these services, Minister Kemayah reveals that a regulation developed and signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance stipulates that applicants are to pay US$5.00 for an Article of Incorporation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He adds that the regulation stipulates also that for an Apostille or Letter of Authentication, you are to pay U.S.$25, and U.S.$10 for a Laissez Passer, respectively.

Giving a narrative on why he took the measures, Foreign Minister Kemayah recalls that earlier the general black market which has been closed was collecting U.S.$75 instead of U.S.$5.00 for an Article of Incorporation and then eat both the required fee and the excess amount.

For an Apostille or Letter of Authentication which costs U.S.$25, he says the general black market had applicants paying more than triple the U.S.$25 without those payments one day going into government covers.

According to Minister Kemayah, this resumption of these services will go a very long way in giving a boost to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ contribution to the national budget of the Republic of Liberia.

Under the regulation, Minister Kemayah says all fees for the services will not be paid at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, instead disclosing that they will be paid at any Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) booth.
He says applicants will receive flag receipts from LRA which they will then submit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs authentication before the needed service is rendered.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is neither the Liberia Revenue Authority nor the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. We are not in the business of collecting fees,” Minister Kemayah declares.
He directs that all fees for services must be paid at any time into the Government of Liberia account.

Minister Kemayah says he didn’t know earlier that the public had so much a huge demand for Apostille service until he suspended it and began to see an influx of applicants at his office.

Giving a background to the reform at the Ministry, Minister Kemayah recalls that upon assuming office in October 2020, he did observe that there were services being rendered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but fees or payments for such services were being used by unknown individuals.

“These fees were being collected illegally and so the Government of Liberia was being deprived of the much – needed income,” he explains.

“So when we realized that this was a form of what I would term as another general market, we thought that it would be good to move on to close such general market since it was not benefiting the Liberian people,” he recalls.

He says he set up a mechanism to be able to see what was happening, thereby making available US$450.00 to a female and two gentlemen.

Afterwards Minister Kemayah says he received a report that US$75 was paid for Blue Jacket which is the cover for the Article of Incorporation; and the other gentlemen paid US$90 and US$150 respectively [for services].

This report was followed by a meeting before he announced an immediate suspension of all such services that had to do with obtaining Blue Jacket, Corporate Document and Article of Incorporation, Apostille and Laissez Passer which already had a moratorium, and the closure of the Corporate Office. By Winston W. Parley

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