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Gov’t holds high level business meeting

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The Government of Liberia is expected to hold a two-day high-levels business meeting in the North-western city of Gompa, Nimba County to address pressing issues facing the country’s business climate.

The World Bank’s latest report on doing business in Liberia paints a grey picture about the country’s business climate. According to the Bank for an example, it takes an average three years to file a complaint and get redress in an insolvency case.

The cost required to recover a debt, the World Bank’s report continues, also appeared to be burdensome for creditors due to the high cost of different forms of legal fees which among others include attorneys’ fees, and administrators’ fees.

The Bank further reports that the availability of data on borrowers as well as other firms are not easily accessible thereby making it difficult for lending agency to conduct due diligence.

The high-level business meeting is expected to bring together the heads of the country’s three branches of government-President George Weah, Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, as well as Liberia’s Bank for Development President John Davis among several senior and local government officials and dignitaries.

The meeting which is scheduled to be held from February 1- 2, 2019, is expected to be chaired by Finance, Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, who also doubles as the Chair of the Business Working Group constituted by President Weah in October 2018.

It could be recalled on in October last year, President Weah constituted the Business Climate Working Group for the purpose of identifying and resolving some of the challenges inhibiting a business-friendly environment in the Country. Since then, the group has held several high levels and technical meetings to identify ‘quick wins’ to some of these constraints.

It is against this back drop that the Business meeting is being held to explore evolving challenges and prospects of Liberia business environment and develop doable plans and strategies towards improvements.

Organizers say the two day forum which will be held under the theme “Resolving Constraints”, will look at three of the World Bank Doing Business Indicators: Getting Credit, Resolving Insolvency and Enforcing Contracts.
Finance, Development Planning Minister Tweah Jr. notes that the meeting will draw on the experiences of experts in the field of banking and finance, law, public policy and other professions.

According to a statement issued by the organizers, Mr. Tweah was further quoted as saying “that there was a need to understand some of the challenges that prevent the business community from accessing finance, repayment of loan by debtors and the slow processes involved with the court system in the Country. “

The latest World Bank Doing Business Report also indicates that the fragility or softness of the law on foreclosure, collateral and disposal of debtors’ asset need to be further explored in Liberia.

The report further asserted that the strength of credit reporting systems and the effectiveness of collateral and bankruptcy laws in facilitating lending needed to be looked at with a legal and public policy eye so as to engender a business-friendly climate in the Country. A reviewed of the report noted that it takes on average 1300 days to enforce a contract ranging from the filing of a complaint to a final ruling by the Supreme Court. Some of the factor responsible for the prolong delay can be attributed to the lack of automation system as well as publication of judgment and case management.

Minster Tweah stated that the expected outcomes of the two-day meeting which is expected to bring together members of the three branches of government will focus on finding solutions to these challenges and not restating the already existing problems. “We are hopeful that with the assembly of legal experts, the business community, bankers as well as members of the donor community including the World Bank, UNDP, SIDA, USAID and others, this meeting will be a success”.

With high level officials of government including ministers and directors of affected institutions, the Speaker and President Pro Tempore of the Legislature, the Chief Justice, lawyers, bankers, the media and civil society, the private sector including the Liberia Business Association, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), it is expected that the outcome will set the stage for improving the country’s ranking in the World Business Report. Not only with that, but will also engender a business-friendly climate that will attract both domestic and foreign investments to Liberia.

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