11 May 2010

Liberia: 'BIVAC's Operation Is Illegal'

The Bureau of Veritas otherwise known as BIVAC is said to be operating illegally as the contractual agreement it signed with the Liberian Government has not gone through the process of ratification by the national legislature.

The Senate's Committee on Commerce and Industry is making the allegation against BIVAC against the backdrop that the entity's contract was renegotiated by the Government, but that is it yet to be ratified by the National Legislature as required by law.

BIVAC is tasked with the responsibility of conducting thorough inspection of goods entering commence, a task that is not free of accusations of wrongdoing.

The allegation was made by the Chairman of the Senate's Standing Committee and Industry through its Chairman Senator Nathaniel K. Innis of Grand Bassa County at a Public Hearing for the country's business environment.

The Public Hearing, attended by a number of key speakers from the business community, focused on the general hike in the prices of commodities on the Liberian market and its impact on the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) popularly referred to as 'Lift Liberia'.

The hearing was intended to brainstorm and find amicable solutions to the inflation that has weighed the commerce of Liberia, thus creating hardship for ordinary citizens.

Stressing the need for ratification by the National Legislature of the BIVAC contract, he informed the gathering "since the BIVAC contract was renegotiated several months ago by the Government of Liberia, it has not been ratified; thus its operations in the country are illegal".

According to the Bassa lawmaker, he was raising the issue not because he wanted BIVAC to fold up, but because the company violated the Constitution of Liberia and the country's commerce law, adding "such practice was dangerous to the growth of the country's business environment."

As Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Commerce and Industry, he vouched to report the illegal operations of BIVAC to the full bench of the Senate Plenary, the highest decision-making body.

During the public hearing, invited speakers highlighted the bottleneck in Liberia's commerce industry, especially the alarming hike in the prices of commodities across the country.

Most of the speakers called for the free movement of people, goods and services in the Mano River Union (MRU) and that the Ministries of Commerce and Finance should be the sole guarantors of the businesses' operations.

More besibes, the speakers at the hearing called for the acceptance of the Liberian currency by all and that all exporters surrender foreign currency one hundred percent to the Central Bank of Liberia, and that incentive given to all investors in the rural parts of the country.

Apart from these calls, the speakers decried the harassment and intimidation of investors and petty traders in the rural parts of Liberia, saying that such habit has the propensity to cast dark cloud on the country business environment.

During their presentations, they told the Committee on Commerce and Industry that BIVAC's inspection was causing delay to a large extent, at the place of origin and the final destiny of the inspected goods, as both the traders and the consumers are losing immensely.

"No one business is opposed to taking the IPD to declare their goods costs and origin, but they are opposed to BIVAC inspection and is causing serious delay and unnecessary increase of cost of goods making the ordinary Liberian to bear the heavier burden," they added.

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