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CommentaryON 2ND THOUGHT

On 2nd Thoughts: How Liberian officials are killing Liberian-owned businesses

By Othello B. Garblah

Just the other day while sitting in my office, one of my staffs walked in with a fellow from the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC). He said he had come from the advertising department of the MCC to measure the length and breadth of our entrance.

When we asked why, he stated that once we imprinted the services we provide on our glass door, that is equivalent to an outdoor advertisement and therefore we should pay certain fees to the Government of Liberia in taxes.

When told that this is not an outdoor billboard but rather the entrance of the very business for which we paid Municipal taxes to MCC, he said that was different.

We then asked if he had seen any commercial printing ongoing in our office, he said no. I told him this is what we endure day in and day out, but yet, men and women from different government agencies march in and out of here every day demanding this or that and it’s killing the Liberian businesses-many are folding up because of harassment from government agents.

We further informed him that rather than finding means to improve the viability of local businesses, the government is always finding ways to shut them down.

The reality here is that most Liberian-owned businesses are being drained by the government on multiple fronts with various kinds of taxes. They don’t care if those institutions are making money or not-every day is another group of young men and women dressed in weird-looking jackets requesting ridiculous taxes.

Funny enough, the government will collect these different taxes from local businesses but when it comes to spending the very money, they go and transact outside of the country.

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Members of the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary branches of government would rather spend the money collected from local businesses through their laundry taxes in other countries-say Ghana or China rather than patronize those who are feeding them with their taxes.

The case is worst for Liberians in the printing industry. Just few weeks ago, the Judiciary spent thousands of United States Dollars of local taxpayers’ money in Ghana to print souvenir programs for retiring Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, when there are hundreds of local printing presses here that could do that. The Ghanaian printer who did that job does not pay a dime in terms of taxes to the Liberian Government-it’s local printers who do.

The Judiciary is not alone in this. It goes up to the Legislative and Executive Branches as well. The general and presidential elections is just next year. Government officials vying for elective posts will take money taxpayers are feeding and supporting their extravagant lifestyles with to spend it on printing of t-shirts and flyers in Ghana and China; while the local printing businesses here struggle to pay the taxes that feed them when the money is being spent in foreign countries to businesses that pay no taxes here.

The question then is how the government expects the local printing industry and other local businesses to survive when they keep squeezing money out of them to spend in foreign countries. No wonder, the country’s economy is experiencing stagnated growth.

There is nowhere a Ghanaian or Nigerian will take contracts meant to empower Ghanaians or Nigerians to a foreign country-only Liberian Government officials do that.

The biggest argument is that of the quality of work. How do they think the Ghanaians’ and Nigerians’ businesses got to where they are today if their own governments which they feed with their hard-earned monies through taxes had refused to inject those monies into their own economies by patronizing local businesses?

It was sometime in April, this year when President Weah frowned at Liberians for not patronizing Liberian businesses.

The President during a meeting of the National Steering Committee Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) asserted at the time that Liberians were rather going to foreign businesses to buy instead of promoting Liberian-owned businesses. “Our people have goods but no customers, I think we should start promoting our own businesses,” President Weah noted.

However, what the President failed to have added to his statement at that meeting was, how do we expect our people to pay their taxes if we are taking everything to Ghana, China, America, and the likes?

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).

One Comment

  1. I wonder if they’ll go round collecting taxes and all branded vehicles, especially during the campaign season next year.

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