A proposed Act recently submitted to the National Legislature by the Executive, amending the Investment Incentive Act of 1973, has been withdrawn by the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. An Executive Mansion release late Wednesday night, quoting the President, said the decision to withdraw the Act is intended to allow for more consultations and dialogue among Liberian businesses, civil society groups, the citizenry and other interested groups. A letter withdrawing the draft Act has, accordingly, been submitted to the Honorable House of Representatives.
The bill was submitted to the National Legislature by the President to repeal certain portion of the Business Law act that includes law that sets aside 26 businesses exclusively for Liberians, It may be recalled that in October 1998, the 51st National Legislature during the regime of Charles Taylor passed a law that set aside 26 businesses exclusively for Liberians, Some of these businesses set aside for Liberians include operation of gas stations, travel agencies, and advertising agencies, among others.
This is the problem with us Liberians, we want the President to work her magic and bring badly needed foreign investment to the country, but we are not willing to give her some breathing space, The Liberian business community,along with some whitewash politicians in Monrovia are accusing the President of pandering to foreigners, and that her bill is only meant to satisfy the international community who are interested in foreigners taking over the country’s business climate. They maintained that the government’s poverty reduction strategy will be meaningless if the government fails to protect the ‘Liberianization’ policy.
i am not against the Liberianization act, and the protection of Liberian businesses, however i would like to see some flexibility, these businesses can be set aside for Liberians, but there should be some criteria also set, that when met, by foreigners, they should be able to invest in those businesses. Take Ghana for instance, you cannot own a trading business in that country without investing at least US$300,000 dollars and employing a minimum of ten Ghanaians. That could be an example of a criteria that could be met, if foreigners want to engage in business set aside for only nationals of Liberia.
Simply put, some of the laws we have on the books, are out of dates, and just not Pratical for our times, take for instance again, the question of giving citizenship to people who are not of negro decent, Article 27 B of the the Liberian constitution reads in order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only people of negroes or of negro descent, shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.