7 February 2019

Liberia: Several Importers Accusing Ministry of Commerce of Issuing Import Permits to Selected Businesses

Monrovia — Several importers are accusing the Ministry of Commerce and Industries of withholding their Import Permits or IPDs and preferring a selected number of importers.

These importers say the delay in the issuance of IPDs is causing serious problem for their business.

One of the Importers, who asked not to be named, told FrontPage that his import permits have been at the Ministry for over six months, alleging that authorities there are receiving kickbacks from a selected importers so as to give advantage in the market.

"We have been importing for years and we have never experience this, and the previous minister weren't involved with the IPDs, it was left with directors but today it's a money making thing at the ministry," an importer said.

"We are paying taxes and we have Liberians working with us, if you strangulate us to favor one businessman, you will be hurting not just us but the country because we will not be able to pay taxes and we will lay off people.

"Come and look into my warehouse, it getting empty. And we are been delay from importing for no reason."

"We are calling on the president to set up a team to investigate this IPDs problem at the ministry, we know the president means well for Liberia and Liberians."

Another aggrieved importer alleged that companies like Abi Jouadi and Fouta Corporations are enjoying special privileges from the Ministry.

"I was told that Abi Jouadi, who recently requested, got her IPDs and they are making this argument that we do not have the capacity to store the goods we are importing, for me this is a joke. We have been importing for years and I don't get it."

Mr. Nyema Wisner, Deputy Commerce Minister, told FPA that they have been limiting the number of IPDs to importers with low storage capacity in order to prevent the huge presence of spoiled goods on the market.

Mr. Wisner said the Ministry had earlier discovered that some importers were bringing into the country huge quantity of commodities although they have limited storage capacity.

"People put in for IPDs but they still have goods stock in their warehouse," he said.

Specifically mentioning importers of frozen foods, the deputy minister said out of 13 companies importing, six are more effective and have adequate storage capacity.

Recently, Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh told reporters the ministry has discovered an active and illegal practice in existence involving illicit issuance and manipulation of IPDs by local importers.

Professor Tarpeh said the "illegal IPDs" causing the market to be flooded with low quality flour, chicken eggs, biscuits and other essential commodities, while disclosing that many of the flour consignments imported into the country are "illegally brought in with expired IPDs"

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