Government has raised a red-flag warning leaders of business groups here against disturbing the peace and hindering of economic growth, saying such actions will not be tolerated.
“So we want to sound this alarm again to all of those who are planning the disturbance of our peace and the disturbance of economic growth top lease desist because the government will not tolerate any disturbance of the peace nor will we tolerate any activity that will hinder economic growth in our country”, chief government spokesman Eugene Nagbe said Friday, 31 March at Julijuah, Bomi County.
Before making his presentation on the final day of a two – day Cabinet
Retreat on President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s farm, the Information Minister alarmed that government had received reports from several business persons about recent activities over the past few days by members and agents of a group called Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia or PATEL.
Minister Nagbe had reported that agents of PATEL have been goingaround telling businesses to join them in a strike action, and basically threatening people to participate in activities that hesaid were “inimical to the economy and our country’s peace”.
He had accused the group of distributing leaflets with intimidating tactics, saying such actions by PATEL “are unacceptable to the government”. While encouraging peaceful business people to continue to go about their normal businesses without fear of intimidation from PATEL, the Information Minister recalled providing information on tax situation here.
He sad, government has been engaged in discussions with business leaders including the Liberia Business Association and Liberia Chambers of Commerce, while the Legislature has also engaged PATEL.
According to him, some of the issues that had been raised by PATEL and other business groups about the tax situation at the port, including aUS$1 tax which was legislated along with the Common External Tariff or CET by ECOWAS – have all been addressed.
“But for the sake of the listening public let me say again that with the CET, the government has a migration plan, meaning that the CETwill not come into force until 2018”, said Minister Nagbe.
He added that under the CET, there is a migration policy, and Liberia was in the migration period right now, meaning that the CET will comeinto force in 2018.
“It … also means that no business person is being taxed or affectedby the CET because the CET itself has not come into force,” he arguedfurther.
Concerning the US$1 tax that has been legislated, Mr. Nagbe said it has not also come into force because of ongoing discussion with actorswith the possibility of making amendments in the law.
He praised the Liberia Revenue Authority or LRA for doing a good jobeducating the people about the process at the port concerningthe inspection regime, pre-shipment and inspection upon arrival.
Beyond that, he said the LRA along with the Ministry of Commerceissued a statement to PATEL recently and held meeting for hours. Assuch, he suggested that all of the issues being raised that may beprompting the entire strike action planned by PATEL are issues thatare moot because they have been dealt with.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited By Othello B. Garblah