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Sierra Leone Business: Businesses Smuggling Goods Through Liberia’s Unmanned Borders With Guinea and S. Leone

High import duties and hefty fees and tariffs including a recently introduced US$175 per container agreement appear to be forcing more and more Liberian businesses and individuals to bypass the Liberia Revenue Authority and the National Port Authority by using poorly-manned borders between Liberia and next-door neighbors Guinea and Sierra Leone to bring goods into the country. The most recent involved a consignment of Heineken beer discovered on a broken-down truck in the Gardnersville area. Photographs of the consignment and a statement from Commerce Inspector Floyd M. Jallah, obtained by FrontPageAfrica showed several cartons of Heineken on a truck reportedly out of Guinea. When authorities were called on the scene, it was revealed that the consignment belonged to an unknown business entity and not Abou Jaoudi & Azar Trading Company which is the only company licensed to import Heineken in Liberia. Mr. Jallah wrote: “Based upon credible information from the market concerning a truck loaded with Heineken beer from an unknown border using the Gardnersville route, we proceeded at once to ascertain facts as it relates to the said commodity which is duly registered by the Industrial Property office owned by Abou Jaoudi & Azar Trading Company. We discovered that the said truck was parked at a garage on the New Georgia Estate Road due to mechanical breakdown. In this regard, the management of Abou Jaoudi & Azar Company was contacted along with the consignee who appeared later. We noticed that one thousand cartons of said goods was loaded from my boss to turn over said product to Aja pending investigation on Monday, Feb. 4.” Section 11.8 (a) of the Act Adopting A New Copyright Law of The Republic of Liberia Approved July 23, 1997; And The Industrial Property Act Of Liberia Approved March 20, 2003 states: “Only producers carrying on their activity in the geographical area specified in the Register shall have the right to use a registered geographical indication, in the course of trade, with respect to the products specified in the Register.” Section 10.18 also states: All goods unlawfully bearing a trademark or trade name contrary to this Part shall be subject to seizure upon importation pursuant to customs laws and regulations, and the civil procedure law of Liberia. Attempts by FrontPage Africa to reach the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority for comments did not materialize. However, when grilled on Monday about the incident, Deputy Commissioner General for Technical Affairs, Decontee T. King Sackie of the Liberia Revenue Authority confirmed that the consignment was busted, but declined to speak further on the matter as it was under investigation. In a media engagement meeting last Thursday, the Commissioner General admitted to porous borders hampering revenue collection. He said borders between Liberia and Guinea from the Lofa belt and Liberia and Sierra Leone are so porous that people can easily smuggle goods into the country. He lamented that the limited numerical strength of Revenue collectors and inspectors cannot permit them to monitor all entry points. Commissioner Nah further explained that importers of cars often chose to make Guinea a transit point where they will pay below regular tax since the car is in transit, then they smuggle it into Liberia. “That’s why you hear people say it is cheaper to send your car to Guinea and drive it to Liberia. It’s because they smuggle those cars into the country,” he said. Liberia has 176 entry points with neighboring countries. According to the Liberia Immigration Service, only 46 of these entries are guarded.

Monday February 11, 2019.

 

 

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