President George Weah and top administration officials are expected to hold talks in Ganta, Nimba county from Friday 1 February to Saturaday Feb. 2 on challenges and prospects of the country’s business environment and develop workable plans and strategies for improvement.
The Business Climate Working Group is organizing the meeting under the theme “Resolving Constraints.” The two-day forum will look at three of the World Bank Doing Business Indicators: Getting Credit, Resolving Insolvency and Enforcing Contracts.
President Weah in October 2018, constituted the Business Climate Working Group for the purpose of identifying and resolving some of the challenges inhibiting a business-friendly environment in the Country. Since then, the group has held several high levels and technical meetings to identify ‘quick wins’ to some of these constraints.
The Chair of the Business Climate Working Group, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah Jr. said the meeting will draw on the experiences of experts in the field of banking and finance, law, public policy and other professions.
“There is a need to understand some of the challenges that prevent the business community from accessing finance, repayment of loan by debtors and the slow processes involved with the court system in the Country,” Tweah noted.
The latest World Bank Doing Business Report noted that it takes on average three years to file a complaint and get redress in an insolvency case. The cost required to recover a debt also appeared to be burdensome for creditors due to the high cost of different forms of legal fees which among others include attorneys’ fees, administrators’ fees amongst others. The availability of data on borrowers as well as other firms are not easily accessible thereby making it difficult for lending agency to conduct due diligence. The fragility or softness of the law on foreclosure, collateral and disposal of debtors’ asset need to be further explored.
The report also asserted that the strength of credit reporting systems and the effectiveness of collateral and bankruptcy laws in facilitating lending needed to be looked at with a legal and public policy eye so as to engender a business-friendly climate in the Country. A reviewed of the report noted that it takes on average 1300 days to enforce a contract ranging from the filing of a complaint to a final ruling by the Supreme Court. Some of the factor responsible for the prolong delay can be attributed to the lack of automation system as well as publication of judgment and case management.
Minster Tweah noted that the expected outcomes of the two-day meeting which is expected to bring together members of the three branches of government will focus on finding solutions to these challenges and not restating the already existing problems. “We are hopeful that with the assembly of legal experts, the business community, bankers as well as members of the donor community including the World Bank, UNDP, SIDA, USAID and others, this meeting will be a success”.
With high level officials of government including ministers and directors of affected institutions, the Speaker and President Pro Tempore of the Legislature, the Chief Justice, lawyers, bankers, the media and civil society, the private sector including the Liberia Business Association, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), it is expected that the outcome will set the stage for improving the country’s ranking in the World Business Report. Not only with that, but will also engender a business-friendly climate that will attract both domestic and foreign investments to Liberia.