25 June 2013

Liberia: Let Bygones Be Bygones - New Commerce Minister Assures Rebranding

Liberia's new Commerce Minister Axel M. Addy has disclosed that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is being rebranded to meet the demands of the public, noting that a new day has come.

Addressing a stakeholder's engagement with the media Thursday in Monrovia, Addy admitted that the image of the Ministry has been very negative and needs to be rebranded. "All I can say is that let bygones be bygones as we turn a new page," he told a room full of journalists and his immediate lieutenants.

Addy indicated that he has heard too many negatives about the ministry with many of the information based on mere "perception", while some were however true. Poor communication and misinformation, he admitted, was a major factor, but said the page will flip positively in the current dispensation.

In moving forward, Addy indicated that both the media and the general public need to "suspend judgment" "understand" the reality through awareness and proper channel of communication and "nature ideas" that will help the ministry plays its role.

The act creating the Ministry was passed in 1987 to promote, develop, regulate, control, and expand commerce and industrial enterprises, among others in Liberia, but the Ministry is reported to have failed in the implementation of its mandate over the years.

Many people in the public have limited confidence and faith in the resolve of the ministry in handling the country's commerce and grooming its industry, with many lambasting the government's entity of failing to control prices on the local market.

Officials of the ministry are accused of compromising complaints and reportedly conniving with businesses to dupe government with stinging effects on the general public.

Observers said winning total confidence from a disenchanted public remains a challenge, but Addy who officially took over only a month ago has vowed to work with all stakeholders in rebranding Commerce.

Addy (former Deputy Commerce Minister under Miata Beysolow) told the Senate Committee on Commerce and Industry early April during his confirmation hearing, that he was bringing "transferrable skills of effective and efficient management... with over 10 years of diverse management experience" to run the lambasted Ministry.

"I envision moving the Ministry in a new direction, towards a more effective and efficient commerce," he vowed, something he rephrased yesterday.

Among other things, Addy said internally, the Ministry will focus on capacity building of staff and operators of local businesses and link them with financial institutions to make them vibrant.

The national standard lab, he furthered, will be improved to do sound testing of commodities on the market, admitting that substandard goods were on the market.

Several journalists who spoke at the interactive forum advised the Minister to kickoff the rebranding internally, by ensuring trained staff who are well paid, and by improving the ministry's communications channels.

Officials of the ministry said yesterday's interactive forum was the kick off to others to be held with stakeholders.

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