1 May 2014

Liberia: Ellen Issues Four Executive Orders, Superseding Previous Ones

Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has issued Executive Order Nos. 56, 57, 59 and 60, renewing previous Executive Orders affecting several institutions operating in Liberia.

According to an Executive Mansion release, Executive Order No. 56 has waived taxes and tariff on key anti-malaria commodities and products being imported into Liberia. This renews Executive Order No. 42.

Executive Order No. 56 says the Liberian President's action is in support of the Government of Liberia's continuous support of the decision by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) goals, which is committed to achieving the United Nations' goal of universal access to malaria control interventions to end preventable deaths by 2015.The waiver on all taxes and tariffs on anti-malaria commodities and products will be determined jointly by the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare and Finance. The Order took effect on April 25, 2014.

Executive Order No. 57 exempts the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) from custom duties on certain products, extending Executive Order No. 49. According to Executive Order No. 57, Government recognizes that safe drinking water and basic sanitation are crucial to the preservation of human health and basic hygiene and it seeks to ensure that policies and institutions for water supply and sanitation service delivery, as well as for water resources development and management, respond effectively to need and priorities of the population.

The Executive Order notes that the need still exists to exempt from customs duty fuel and related items for the operation of the LWSC's water treatment plants and for the delivery of water and sewer services. The items exempted from the payment of customs duties by the LWSC include: Diesel Fuel for Water Treatment Plant (s); Rotable and consumable spares to be used at Water Treatment Plant (s); Low lift and high lift pumps to be used at the Water Treatment Plant (s). The Executive Order took effect on April 25.

As regards Executive Order No. 59, it delimits the Maritime Zones of Liberia. The Order, an extension of Executive Order No. 48, reiterates that in the National interest it is imperative to pronounce certain measures that are consistent with the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and the Act of the Legislature made pursuant to that Convention.

It states that the breadth of the Territorial Sea of Liberia shall not exceed twelve nautical miles measured from the low waterline along the coast of the Republic; the Contiguous Zone may not extend beyond 24 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the Territorial Sea is measured; and the Exclusive Economic Zone is defined as that area beyond and adjacent to the Territorial Sea which does not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the Territorial Sea is measured.

In the Exclusive Economic Zone, to the extent permitted by international law, Executive Order No. 59 states that Liberia has sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources. Executive Order No. 60 places a moratorium on the exportation of unprocessed natural rubber by the Government of Liberia.

According to Executive Order No. 60, signed by the Liberian leader on April 28, it is intended to curb the decline in the Liberian rubber sector until policies and frameworks appropriate to the situation are instituted, and to ensure redevelopment, new development, increased production, increased job opportunities and increased revenue to Government. It supersedes Executive Order No. 50, which expired recently.

The Liberian rubber sector has been a part of Liberia's economic heritage for over 80 years, providing a high source of annual revenue for the Government and providing more employment nationwide that any other single economic sector. However, the sector has been greatly affected by abuse, misuse, abandonment and theft. This includes illicit tapping, which is having economic consequences on employment and Government revenue.

To deal with the situation in the rubber sector, the Government believes that appropriate institutional and regulatory frameworks must be established to sustain development of the sector and stimulate growth. It also believes that, in the national interest, urgent action is necessary to stem the current decline in the rubber sector and, as part of remedial measures an immediate halt in the exportation of unprocessed natural rubber is required.

Among the measures put in place, Executive Order No. 60 places a moratorium on the exportation of unprocessed natural rubber from Liberia until otherwise ordered; the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Finance, or any other government agency shall not issue or authorize the issuance of any export permit for unprocessed natural rubber from Liberia; that within 30 days of the issuance of this Executive Order, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture shall make special effort to provide access to domestic markets for Liberian rubber farmers in remote areas who rely primarily on cross-border trade in unprocessed natural rubber.

Executive Order No. 60 also places restriction on the movement and transportation of unprocessed natural rubber between the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.; noting that persons found transporting or moving unprocessed natural rubber during those hours shall be stopped by plant protection force or law enforcement authorities and would be subjected to prosecution by the Ministry of Justice. The directive also orders all custom officers and law enforcement authorities at points of entry and exit stop and prohibit the exportation of all consignments of unprocessed natural rubber from the Republic.

President Sirleaf has directed that within 30 days of the effective date, Government shall issue Guidelines which set forth legally acceptable procedures all agents, processors, and farmers must follow for the purchase, sale, and trade of unprocessed natural rubber in Liberia. Any person found to be acting in violation of the Guidelines shall be subject to legal action by the Ministry of Justice, in accordance with law.

It further directs that effective immediately, all broker activities relating to the purchase, sale or trade of unprocessed rubber in Liberia shall cease and agents shall be the only person to act on behalf of or for a processor or to act as intermediaries between farms and processors in transacting the unprocessed natural rubber trade; that all rubber buying stations and names of persons responsible for the operation of such stations in Liberia shall be registered with the Ministry of Agriculture as any unregistered and unauthorized buying station engaged in rubber trade shall be subject to seizure in accordance with law. Any person operating prohibited and unauthorized buying stations shall be subjected to arrest and prosecution.

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