28 February 2013

Liberia: More Businesses Risk Closure

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has warned that several businesses set aside by the 2010 investment act for Liberians but dominated by foreigners, would be shut down to allow citizens take control over their national economy.

"We will not sit here and allow the Chinese to compete with our people on the sale of cold water or ice blocks. We will not allow that.

"If any foreigner is caught doing businesses set aside for Liberians, you will be shut down. Don't take us for-granted," Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry for Public Affairs, Rufus D. Neufville announced here Tuesday.

Section 21 of the 2010 investment act set aside several businesses for sole ownership and operations by Liberians.

Those businesses set aside for exclusive 'Liberian ownership are: supplier of sand, block making and sale, travel agencies, retail sale of rice and cement, ice making and sale of ice, tire repair shops, auto repair shops with investment of less than US$50,000, shoe repair shops, retail sale of timber and planks, operation of gas stations, video clubs, operation of taxis, importation or sale of second-hand or used clothing, distribution in Liberia of locally manufactured products and importation and sale of used cars (except authorized dealerships which may deal in certain used vehicles of their make.

The investment act also provides in its second category a foreign business ownership under certain conditions with a total investment capital of not less than US$500,000, but US$300,000 where there is a Liberian shareholding of at least 25%.

The Ministry named those businesses that could be owned by foreigners under the above conditions as follows: production and supply of stone and granite, ice cream manufacturing, commercial printing, advertising agencies, graphics and commercial artistic, cinemas, production of poultry and poultry products, operation of water purification or bottling plant (excluding the production and sales of water in sachets), entertainment centers not connected with a hotel establishment, operation of heavy duty trucks and sale of pharmaceuticals."

But Deputy Minister Neufville told a press conference here yesterday that foreigners were abusing the first category of the investment act that exclusively set aside businesses for Liberians investors.

He said the ministry would be "very vigilant" in ensuring that these business sectors are taken over by the citizens, and emphasized that the Commerce Ministry has formed a special task force to work with other line government institutions in dealing with the issue.

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