By Morrison O.G. Sayon
A one-day Roundtable on Liberia’s Accession Protocol and Post Accession Plan has ended in Monrovia with several recommendations to Government and donor partners. The Roundtable which is being held under the aegis of the Single Project Implementation Unit (SPIU) is part of series of meetings being held on the World Trade Organization Accession. Commerce & Industry Minister, Axel M. Addy, disclosed that yesterday’s meeting was part of a series of meetings that have been held and expected to be held with stakeholders including the National Legislature, the private sector and donor partners.
Giving an overview of the Roundtable, Minister Addy said a month ago, the Ministry of Commerce held similar meeting with the Liberian lawmakers intended to improve the economic system. He said yesterday’s meeting was also intended to solicit views and contributions from donor partners in improving the business climate in Liberia. Minister Addy further disclosed that the series of Roundtables are geared toward engaging all partners that have been participating in these meetings for the past seven years in terms of designing strategies on domestic reform of the nation’s economy. “We need to implement our standard protocol and these donor partners have been part of the process,” said the Commerce Minister in an interview following the Roundtable held at the World Bank Office in Congo Town. He said all of Liberia’s partners are supporting the process of reform in the Liberian economy. He furthered, “Now that we have met all of the requirements and accepted by the World Trade Organization the next step is how do we implement our domestic reform to improve the system; how to do business timely, how can Government provide more efficient services to improve the system and to bring in the private sector especially in the agriculture industry to do agro-processing; how to work with Small-Medium Side Enterprises (SME)?”
He said many Liberians are spreading misconceptions that the involving of the private sector means that government is giving the country to foreigners. “This is completely a misconception. In the Liberianization law there are 16 businesses set aside exclusively for Liberians. The only thing is that some of our laws are outdated and need to be reformed. If you say that these are intended to put the country’s economy in the hands of foreigners then that means Liberia is not an opened country and is structured in one way, Liberia is opened; this is the process of reviewing our system of economy. How do we improve some of these systems this is what the process is all about,” Minister Addy stressed.
He said the Ministry and partners have succeeded in improving some of the systems through the automated system that have been installed to fast- track some of the business activities in the country. He stressed the need for government to speedily secure the Monrovia Industrial Park so that it will not miss the opportunity. Addy added that government acquired 250 acres of land for the Industrial Park which must be reclaimed for industrial purposes.
The Minister pointed out that the series of discussions are geared toward the adoption of ECOWAS Commission External Tariff; improve quality infrastructure-verification of conformity; improve movement of people, visa on arrival airport security check; leverage comparative; advantage in the agro sector; investment in agriculture based on export strategy and investment in tourism. For Mr. Charles McClain, Deputy Agriculture Minister, said his ministry has strong role to play in revamping the agricultural sector and the entire nation’s economy and stressed the importance of coordination. Mr. McClain wants the Agriculture and Commerce Ministries to coordinate on a Presidential Taskforce in addressing some of the burning issues. He said the ministry has reactivated the Agriculture Donor Working Group.
The one-day Roundtable was attended by several stakeholders who unanimously recommended the improvement of the agricultural sector and moving the nation’s economy forward by addressing issues affecting the economic system of Liberia.
File photo: Commerce Minister Alex Addy /www.washingtontimes.com