President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is seeking the endorsement of the Honorable House of Representative for the enactment of a Bill titled, “An Act to amend An act to Ratify the Decision A/ Dec. 17/1/06 adopting the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET)”. According to a communiqué from the President, the CET was provided for the effective implementation of migration plan beginning January 1, 2017, and as such, there is a need to address the challenges for its implementation.
The President made this statement in a letter sent yesterday to the Plenary of the House of Representatives explaining the purpose of the Bill as measures that will govern the implementation of the ECOWAS CET migration plan to mitigate the revenue and socioeconomic impact on the nation and its people. “This amendment has revised the CET migration plan to provide for a longer phase in period of four year (2018-2021), and provides for implementation of the CET to commence January 1, 2018”, she added. The President furthered that, the Bill when passed into law, will also apply the Liberian import duty tariff schedule as it existed prior to the adoption of the ECOWAS CET on September 16, AD 2016 from the effective date of the Act until implementation date of the revised CET Migration plan. Section lV of the Act which speaks on its effectiveness says “upon the passage, it shall take effect thirty days from the date of publication into handbills to allow the Liberia revenue Authority (LRA) to prepare its system for full implementation”. But recently, the National Chairman of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), Presley S. Tenwah, said the Common Extended Tariff (CET) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) if amended by the Legislature would be a bad law that leaves Liberian businesses at a disadvantage because most Liberians are engaged in small businesses. PATEL Chairman made the comment during a public hearing on “An Act to Amend the Act Ratifying and Adopting the ECOWAS Common External Tariff as Amended”. Representative Prince Moye, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning, and Commerce and Trade conducted the public hearing. The Common External Tariff is one of the instruments of matching ECOWAS Member States and strengthening its Common Market. Article 3 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty defines the aims of the community as promoting “co-operation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa”. In order to achieve this, the Community is to ensure, in stages, among other means, the establishment of a common market through “the adoption of a common external tariff and a common trade policy”. A common external tariff with a common nomenclature so that, customs procedures are transparent, readily followed, because delays at borders decreased, is a key stone in achieving this union. Meanwhile the communication was read and forwarded to Committees on Ways, Means, Judiciary and Foreign Affairs to report within two weeks to the Plenary of the Lower House.