Monrovia — The Government of Liberia, under Finance Minister Amara Konneh's watch, has infused about US$78m into the economy to spur economic activities.
Konneh justified the urgent need to pay vendors and civil servant salaries especially during the festive seasons to give more purchasing powers to the people, which will ensure revenue for government in return.
On Wednesday, the Treasury chief left his Broad Street office with the enthusiasm to mingle with local petty traders and small business entities down water street to first, assess the impact of the stimulus and also understand the constraints facing the business people. He was accompanied by deputy Minister for Revenue, Dr. James Kollie. They strolled through the thick crowd of sellers and buyers, meeting and chatting with the traders.
"We are struggling, Mr. Minister..." scores of petty traders and small business enterprises lamented when the Minister reached out. According to them, when they travel to China to buy their goods, the factory owners are in the constant habit of importing the same goods through other means and selling them on the local market at cheap prices which is impeding economic growth for them.
Saah Kpenkpa, a small business owner complained that the Chinese merchants are undermining their efforts. He said when they go to China to buy goods and come back home, the factories owners have their agents here selling the same goods at lower prices.
"So, we want you as finance minister to intervene to stop this. We are losing business and some of us will soon go out of business of this trend continues."
Also during his brief meeting with officials of Coalition of Liberian Businesses Organization (COLINBO), the same issue was raised. COLINBO appealed to Konneh to do everything possible to help Liberian businesses grow.
Troubled by what he was hearing for the first time, Minister Konneh vowed to work with the relevant government institutions to regulate the market so that ordinary Liberians and Liberian-owned entities are given the opportunity to do business in Liberia.
The Finance Minister hinted that government will be holding a two-day high-level retreat with the Liberian business community early next year to brainstorm on some of the constraints facing the business people and at the same time craft solutions to those problems for the economy to bloom.
Konneh emphasized that the two- day retreat will review the existing revenue codes and the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Act so that government's 25 percent fiscal rule can be enforced.
The retreat will also review the legal constrains that the petty Liberian traders are encountering, which according is impeding to their success.
"There is a need that some of those laws such as the revenue codes of Liberia, the PPCC art among others be revisited so as to help improve the business climate of Liberia petty traders," Konneh assured.
According to the Finance Minister, the business people are the engine of the Liberian economy, and "if the engine does not work there will be no creation of job and opportunity in the business sectors. I am impressed to see more Liberians engaging in trading activities which will rapidly help to revamp this emerging economy."
As he walked through the streets, "I saw both buyers and sellers and this is very encouraging for our young economy. About US$78m have been infused to stimulate the economy and I saw the impact today."
Konneh noted that while it is true that there is an open door market policy in Liberia, he strongly suggested that government should make laws that will protect Liberians businesses.
He encouraged the business community to attend the pending Retreat so that together, government and the business people will find solutions that will create a more conducive environment.