Buchanan — Grand Bassa County Representative Matthew Fairplay Joe has called for swift Legislative inquiry into the allegation of "Tariff Increment" by local seaport operator ATM Terminals.
Rep. Joe in a communication to the House of Representatives, Joe is also calling for a comprehensive review and subsequent amendment of the APM Terminals Concession Agreement in the interest of the Liberian people.
In his January 11 communication addressed to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Rep. Joe alarmed that the "increment" is happening at a time the economy is on a downward trend.
The Grand Bassa lawmaker's communication, copy of which is in LINA's possession, was in reference to the January 5, 2021 edition of a local newspaper in which a headline reads "APM Terminals increases tariffs on all cargo services by 9.67%".
Rep. Joe pointed out that the APM Terminals concession agreement section 7.07, sub-section C; gives the concessionaire the sole authority to increase tariff annually based on what the concession agreement referred to as "inflation index."
The newspaper report says the 9.67% increment of APM Terminals new handling charge, is equated to US$18.28, something the lawmaker pointed out in his letter; requires an inquiry.
He observed: "this means, for example, to clear a 20ft container within the storage free time which used to be US$189 will now be US$207."
"I present profound compliments and in the same vein wish to bring to the attention of this august body the January 5, 2021 edition of the local newspaper reporting the tariffs increment.
Rep. Joe based his request for immediate inquiry of the APM Terminals' financial report which was also "accentuated" by the Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Bill Twehway; stating that the APM Terminals made a windfall profit of (US$ 45,757, 470) in 2018.
He added that of this amount, the Government of Liberia received from the company US$7, 950, 212 as remittance.
"If you subtract what the government of Liberia received, you will realize that APM Terminals walked away with a whooping US$37.8 million profit in 2018.
The lawmaker added that APM Terminals also made another huge profit of
US$46, 563, 230 in 2019, and that of this amount, the Company also remitted to the Government of Liberia's Account the amount of US$9,000,000 (Nine million dollars).
The Communication revealed that APM Terminals collected for itself US$37.5 million as profit, the lawmaker told his Colleagues, noting that the company has earned more than the Liberian State.
"Hon. Speaker and Distinguished Colleagues, APM Terminals has made windfall profit at the detriment of the Liberian people and if I begin to enumerate all of the profits it has accrued beginning 2010 up to present, there will be no luxury of time," he pointed out.
Representative Joe claimed that it is a known fact that some Liberian importers are diverting their containers to neighboring Guinea and other nearby countries due to the "exorbitant cost" of clearing containers at the National Port Authority.
This, he noted, prompted his request to plenary to invite the Management of APM Terminals and National Port Authority Managing Director Bill Twehway to show cause for the alleged tariff increment, especially when the economy is struggling.
The Representative told Plenary to also request the management of the National Port Authority to provide convincing explanation why the cost of clearing 20ft and 40ft containers are more expensive at the Liberian Port of entry than other countries in the sub-region.
The Grand Bassa District #Three Representative, it can be recalled, wrote the lower House in 2018 for revision of the same APM Terminals' Concession Agreement.