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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

US RELEASES DAMAGING INVESTMENT CLIMATE REPORT ON WEAH GOVERNMENT, SAYS IT DOES MUCH TO DISCOURAGE INVESTMENT IN LIBERIA

Date:

The United States 2022 Investment Climate Statement has revealed that the George Weah government does much to discourage investors and investment in Liberia..The statement released by the State Department recently notes that some business leaders report that it is difficult even to meet with Liberian government representatives to discuss new investments or policies damaging to the business climate in the country.

According to the US Government Statement, a weak legal and regulatory framework, lack of transparency in contract awards, and widespread corruption inhibit foreign direct investment. The Statement adds that  Investors are often treated as opportunities for graft, and government decisions affecting the business sector are driven more by political cronyism than investment climate considerations.

According to the statement, many businesses find it easy to operate illegally if the right political interests are being paid, whereas those that try to follow the rules receive little if any assistance from government agencies.

The Investment Act restricts market access for foreign investors, including U.S. investors, in certain economic sectors or industries.

The Government of Liberia describes the country as “open for business” and supports programs and initiatives to foster commerce, including an ad hoc Business Climate Working Group (BCWG)  to improve the investment climate.

The Statement indicates that during Liberia’s National Judicial Conference in June 2021, President George Weah called on the Judiciary to partner with agencies on reforms to improve the investment climate. The BCWG, chaired by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, collaborates with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Liberia Business Registry (LBR), National Investment Commission (NIC), and Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

The National Investment Commission (NIC) is Liberia’s investment promotion agency. It develops investment strategies, policies, and programs to attract foreign investment and negotiates investment contracts and concessions. The NIC oversees the implementation of Liberia’s 2010 Investment Act and chairs an ad hoc Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC).

In 2021, the NIC became a member of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA)  See link ( https://waipa.org/members/ ). It also participates in the African Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs)  Forum.

In practice, however, the U.s. reveals that the Weah government does much to discourage investors and investment.

“Some business leaders report it is difficult even to meet with government representatives to discuss new investment or policies damaging to the business climate. A weak legal and regulatory framework, lack of transparency in contract awards, and widespread corruption inhibit foreign direct investment. Investors are often treated as opportunities for graft, and government decisions affecting the business sector are driven more by political cronyism than investment climate considerations.

Many businesses find it easy to operate illegally if the right political interests are being paid, whereas those that try to follow the rules receive little if any assistance from government agencies. The Investment Act restricts market access for foreign investors, including U.S. investors, in certain economic sectors or industries.”

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