“Government Supportive of ECOWAS Protocols,” Says V.P. Boakai

Friday, 19th June 2009
Monrovia, Liberia - Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakai says the Liberian Government is fully supportive of ECOWAS protocols on free movement, and is not supportive of restrictions on the movement of goods within the sub-region.

“As a matter of fact there are no restrictions on the movement of goods and humans within the sub-region. The harmonious relations among them has resulted in the formation of the Mano River Union, which groups together members of the Kissi ethnic group in Sierra Leone, Guinea an Liberia,” he noted.

Vice President Boakai emphasized that the Unity Party-led Government frowns on extortion at border posts, and  observed that what appears to be restrictions on the movement of goods within the Mano River Union is the making of ‘small people’ who want to extort money from business people.

He made the clarification on June 18 when Mr. Bella Diallo, head of the Foula Business Association and member of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern about restrictions imposed on goods coming in and out of Liberia in Ganta, Solumba, Mendicorma and other posts connecting Liberia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

Mr. Diallo, who was part of a seven-member Liberia Chamber of Commerce delegation that called on Vice President Boakai at his Capitol Building office, said these restrictions were hampering trade among member countries of the Mano River Union.

Vice President Boakai noted that people of the Mano River Union are all one, and that there has always been free movement of goods and humans between Liberia and Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea.

He lamented the hike in the prices of some basic commodities despite reduction in tariffs, noting, “Most of the suffering our people are going through is not through Government regulation.”

During the ensuing discussions, the Secretary General of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce,  Massa R. Lansanah complained that splinter groups like the Better Business Forum were usurping the functions and traditional role of the Chamber of Commerce.

Vice President Boakai, a former member of the Chamber of Commerce, observed that the Chamber represents business interests, and advised officials of the Chamber to reach out to these organizations to make them aware of its role.