28 December 2012

Liberia: Substandard Goods Flood Market, Unscrupulous Businesspeople Accused

The Information Officer of the Division of Trade at the Ministry of Commerce has accused unscrupulous businesspeople for the increase of substandard commodities flooding the market.

Thomas Silue defended commerce ministry inspectors who are accused of doing nothing to halt the conspicuous flooding of the market of goods that do not worth consumption.

Appearing on ELBC's Super Morning Show program yesterday, he pointed accusing fingers at unscrupulous businesspeople, who he said should be held liable for the importation of substandard goods.

Liberians continue to put blame on the inability of the ministry and its inspectors to perform to maximal satisfaction in terms of monitoring goods that come into Liberia, but he said it is the business people that smuggled commodities across the borders from other countries.

"It is easier to standardize goods produced in the country than those that are imported into the country," Information Officer Silue said in response to a caller who questioned the role of commerce inspectors regarding the issue of the importation of substandard goods on the Liberian market.

Acknowledging that these things do happen in other civilized or developed countries, he said there were some businesspeople who continue to behave unscrupulously by by-passing set standards in order to satisfy their aims.

He stressed that with the several checks put in place regarding the importation of goods through the various points of entry, business people even try to shun the inspection process at these borders.

Without saying how they intend to stop such habit, he indicated that the Ministry of Commerce will not buy such idea of people bringing in goods that are of low grade or that are substandard.

The Division of Trade Information officer said the invoice process does not only end at the Ministry of Commerce but defined the role of the Bureau of Veritas (BIVAC) as analyzing the authenticity of the business registration to inform its affiliate officers broad so that whatever information is produce on the import permit is correct.

"Any discrepancy discovered is communicated back to Liberia for appropriate actions", Mr. Silue emphasized.

He pointed out that BIVAC is as part its scope of operation is to inspect every commodity to ascertain its country of origin as well as standard before issuing the importer what he referred to as bill of finance; otherwise importer will get no negotiable claim of findings. "We cannot allow such a product to enter the country, it is clear".

Mr. Silue said though the Ministry work in close collaboration with the Bureau of Veritas, there are products that go across the borders but when it comes to products that are imported legally through the Port of Monrovia it is BIVAC work to intervene because that is what it is paid to do.

Commenting on Standard Cargo of Goods, he added that when it comes to standard there is a division in the Ministry of Commerce that is in the better position to throw more light on that.

"The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Finance both through the government hired the service of BIVAC in making sure that whatever items brought into the country meet some level of standard requirements", he added.

The Division of Trade Information Officer added that in the event where BIVAC finds any fault on the ground with an importer bringing in substandard goods it has the solely responsible to ensure compliance.

"BIVAC is doing everything possible to make sure that substandard goods are not allowed into the Liberian market", he emphasized.

He indicated that before one brings in any product, that product remain abroad to be inspected first by BIVAC to ensure that what were spelled out and indicated on that list is the quality that is required by the Bureau of Standard.

In response to a caller who was concerned about registration process, Silue said the ministry cannot guarantee any broker because it has nothing to do with these people as such arrangement is completely outside the operations of the Ministry.

"You have to look for your own broker because whatever discussion or arrangement with such person the Ministry has nothing to do with that except with you, but without the broker you can process your documents", he added.

Responding also to Lafayette Kruah of Duport Road about paying to BIVAC US$190 for a single vehicle that is intended for private use added that upon the completion of the IPD it is then taken to BIVAC who will charge by virtue of its mandate to pay same to have the document processed.

Mr. Silue confirmed that indeed as part of the process one must go to BIVAC; the matter is that the arrangement to pay or not is not the making of the Ministry of Commerce but it is the government's stipulated price that before importing certain threshold from US$3,500 above the fee of US$190 is charged.

"From that range of US$3,500 up to US$15,000 falls within the range of US$190. Anything above that is calculated by 1.2% of the freight on board (FOB)' he said.

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