-writes House Speaker
Former chief of protocol of Liberia Ambassador Rufus D. Neufville is urging members of the Liberian Legislature to amend the 2010 Investment Act of Liberia to spur growth of Liberian-owned businesses in the country.Nuefville, now executive director for People Action Network a pro-government pressure group in a communication to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers request the legislature to conduct comprehensive review of impact of the Government of Liberia Investment Act published on July 19, 2010.
“I’m honored to extend sincere compliments on behalf of the People Action Network. PAN is a civil society group dedicated to the struggle for equal rights and opportunities for all Liberians, we are part of a network of non-governmental organization with similar goals”, the communication reads.
According to him, the 2010 Investment Act is an instrument that set aside certain businesses exclusively for Liberians in order to strengthen business interest of citizens, consistent with the Liberalization Policy.
But Nuefville noted that contrary to expectation, Liberian businesses have not been able to experience substantial growth because of two key factors, adding that most businesses set aside for Liberians in the Act of 2010 are small and are not listed as strategic commodities with significant profit margins.
He said enforcement of existing laws by the Ministry of Commerce has been overshadowed by vices, such as fronting and flagrant disregard for the rights of Liberians by unscrupulous merchants.
In view of the aforementioned, we wish to petition the legislature to amend the Investment Act of 2010, by adding thereto the importation of rice, and frozen foods to be set aside exclusively for Liberians. The amendment should also strongly prohibit fronting and increase penalties for any violation of the Act. He says.
The PAN director names some businesses that should be reserved exclusively for Liberians including Supply of Sand, Block Making, Peddling, Travel Agencies, Retail sale of Rice and Cement, Ice making and sales.
He name the rest as tire repair shops, retail sale of timber and plank, operation of gas stations across the country, video clubs, taxis operation, importation or sale of second-hand used clothing, distribution in Liberia of locally manufactured products, importation and sale of used cars, except authorized dealerships which may deal in certified used vehicles of their make.
Meanwhile, Mr. Neufville points out that foreign investors may invest in the following business activities provide, where such listed enterprises are owned exclusively by non-Liberians, total capital invested shall not be less than $US 500,000, and where such listed enterprises are owned by non- Liberians in partnership with Liberians and the aggregate shareholding of Liberians is at least 25 percent, and the total capital invested shall not be less than $US 300,000, he adds.
By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne