20 February 2014

Liberia Business Group Takes Govt. to Task Over CBL Loan Scheme

Monrovia — The president of the Liberian Business Association (Liba) has frowned on government for its seemingly passive posture in the promotion of Liberian businesses.

Delivering the keynote address at the induction ceremony of the Authorized Cemenco Distributors Association of Liberia (Acemdal Incorporated), Dee Maxwell Kemayah said government has demonstrated a complete lip service to rigorously implement policies geared towards the empowerment of these businesses.

Kemayah said the need for government to move from mere pronouncements and lip services to an integrated action in the support for the empowerment of Liberian-owned businesses can't be overemphasized.

This, he said, can only be possible if government, which is overseeing the reform policy agenda, sees the need to prioritize the empowerment of Liberian-owned businesses as one of the top national agenda.

Kemayah disclosed that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was viewed as glamour of hope by the Liberian business community prior to her election in 2005 with the poverty reduction strategy (PRS).

But the PRS, he added, turned out to be a segmented and disintegrated intervention for the business community.

"What [has] happened to the plan of creating Liberian millionaires within the business community during this administration? How many of these millionaires have been created as we speak, especially so, as this government is going towards the end of its second term?

"How much of the expenditure of this government was used on Liberian-owned businesses for the procurement of goods and services since this government came to power? Or was it a plan to create government-millionaires through taxpayers' money instead of creating millionaires from the business community? If that is the case, then it is troubling and saddened.

"How much of the expenditure of this government was used on foreign-related businesses for the procurement of goods and services since this government came to power? The answers to these questions will go a long way in helping government to be able to give more priority and do a little more towards empowering Liberian-owned businesses," he asked.

Kemayah, however, admitted that Liba is fortunate to have been given the necessary recognition and support by government at some levels by the Central Bank of Liberia.

He then recommended key points as what, he believes,will enhance the growth and development of Liberian-owned businesses yea the economy.

"1. That the leadership being inducted into office today should endeavor to adapt the principles of good governance and [should] work as a team. 2. That in furtherance of the Liberianization Policy, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her cabinet should exert every effort, along with the National Legislature, to ensure the enactment and implementation of a law that will require Liberians to hold at least 40-percent partnership in all foreign-related businesses and companies doing business or desiring to do business in Liberia as in the case of Ghana and other places. "3. That the government, through a strategic process, closes down all retail businesses operated by foreigners and then in furtherance, empower Liberian-owned businesses to take over completely the retail sector of our economy. Simply putting it, all foreign businesses should be limited to the wholesale level while Liberian-owned businesses, with the capacity, be given opportunities to do both retail and wholesale.

"4. That the government should review all its business-related laws and amend portions that are not in the interest of empowering Liberian-owned businesses. 5. That Acemdal should ensure the decentralization of its organization as Monrovia is not Liberia and Cemenco related distributors could also be in rural Liberia.

"That the management of Cemenco should use Acemdal as the channel for the sale of Cemenco-produced cement in Liberia. This will not only serve as a market opportunity for the members of the association but will go a long way in empowering Acemdal. 7. That Cemenco and Acemdal should also exert every effort to ensure that the Acemdal acquire some minimum share in Cemenco.

"As we are quite aware that some time back, government made a pronouncement that it was selling its component of the shares[in Cemenco] to citizens. With the direct contact and what you are doing, I think it is prudent that this be done [given to you]. This will serve as a good trust fund for the association.

"That Acemdal join our campaign for an economic revolution in Liberia, especially so,as in my conviction, economic empowerment of the Liberian people will provide a perfect opportunity for wealth creation. We don't need poverty reduction. Let's work towards wealth creation.

"This economic empowerment of the Liberian people will no doubt serve as a bedrock for the sustainability of genuine reconciliation, peace, stability and economic growth and development in Liberia. How can you join this economic revolution campaign? I urge you to join the economic revolution campaign in Liberia by beginning to develop the spirit of entrepreneurship," Kemayah highlighted in a 20-count recommendation.

Delivering his inaugural address on the theme, Chairman Varmah Moore commended Acemdal for a peaceful and successful electoral period, which was being climaxed with the induction.

Moore said his administration's prime focus will be on how to provide more training in business management and structural marketing practices with Cemenco their facilitator and or sponsor.

Contractual agreements, he added, will be revisited to ensure that they are balanced for the good of all.

Moore then called on the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to empower Acemdal, who are major players in the national reconstruction drive.

"We want to call on CBL, Liba and all financial institutions, involved in the micro-finance loan scheme to begin given credence to members of this organization. As you have seen today, you know our strength and the leadership.

"We can assure you, Mr. Kemayah and your friend--His Honor, Dr. J. Mills Jones, that you can entrust us with whatever money and this leadership can manage it very well and we will pay back in the stipulated time. "And we certainly hope that your administration and the national government, especially the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, will continue to open their doors to us and accord us the necessary opportunities," Moore concluded on the theme, 'Mutual Listening for Success' with a quote from Plato, a grateful mind is a great mind that is eventually attracted to great things. Others inducted were Idee Ragland, co-chairperson for administration; J. Monly Dougbe, co-chairman for operations; James Walker, secretary-general; Adam A. Sesay, assistant secretary-general; Marcus S. Roberts, financial secretary; Vamuyan S. Sheriff, treasurer and McArthur G. David as chaplain.

In consultation with the leadership, Moore constituted an advisory board by naming Richard B. Dapaye, whom he defeated, as chairman.

Others were Mayanma Dukuly-Konneh, co-chairperson; Patrick Komoyan, secretary-general and David Jones and Mary Y. Bundo as members. Vivian M. Cooper was named as planning and program committee chairperson while Prince Yanzehand Thomas Fahnbulleh were appointed as chairmen of the grievance and ethics and sports committees respectively.

A minute of silence was observed in memory of all members, especially former Cemenco sales assistant Richard Davies, whose death triggered the formation of Acemdal in 2011.


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