Free Port of Monrovia Goes Paperless

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After months of consultations and engagements with stakeholders, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and port operator APM Terminals Liberia have launched the Port Automation and Digitization (PAD) project at the Free Port of Monrovia.

The launch heralds a new phase of computerized processes at the Free Port of Monrovia, which eliminates paper and reduces the human interface as much as possible. This will significantly improve the efficiency of both Customs clearance processes and terminal operations in the long term and reaffirm the Free Port of Monrovia’s position as the gateway to the economy of Liberia and the Mano River Union.

Previously, customers had to manually submit their declarations, go through assessment, raise checks and proceed to pay before the Customs Broker obtained a customs release to present to APM Terminals Liberia for terminal release for onward inspection and trucking. These processes took about 5 days to complete.

These were reduced significantly with the initial steps of the implementation of the digitization process. With full-scale automation and digitization, the process is expected to be reduced even further, saving productive hours and bringing convenience to both Customs Brokers and customers.

At a ceremony attended by a wide swath of government and business leaders, various speakers emphasized the importance of this new initiative to the efficiency of port processes, ease of doing business and revenue mobilization.

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, while serving as keynote speaker, commended APM Terminals Liberia and its partners for the historic and transformative initiative.

“Digitizing the Port comes with numerous benefits to the economy in terms of ease of doing business and revenue mobilization. This development has the full endorsement and support of President George Weah, whose policies have been focused on strengthening our economy to boost trade and business and create opportunities for all,” Tweah said. “It is in this light that I commend APM Terminals Liberia and partners for launching this initiative and for their collaboration in making sure that we achieve full success with Port Automation and Digitization (PAD).”

Also speaking, Thomas Doe Nah, Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), implementing partner of the project, said that the PAD is important to their drive for timely revenue collection.

“As a key partner to this initiative, we are convinced about its potential to help us deal with loopholes and leakages often facilitated by human interventions so that we can maximize port revenue as we should,” Nah remarked.

Spearheading the project is APM Terminals Liberia whose Managing Director, Jonathan Graham, was full of gratitude to the various partners. Graham stressed the need for even stronger partnerships with the PAD journey, in the rollout of the project, adding that such is the only way that the Free Port of Monrovia can be transformed into a modern port serving Liberia and the sub-region.

“Today is a very significant day in the history of the Free Port of Monrovia. The strong partnership between us and the various port stakeholders has been demonstrated once again and we are immensely grateful to all the players who have worked with us from project conception to implementation. Let me please reiterate the importance of these partnerships. They are crucial to us, and we see it as the only way we can collectively transform the Free Port of Monrovia,” Jonathan Graham said in a brief welcome address.

Speaking about the preparatory work done by the partners in the lead-up to this launch, the Technical Team Leader of the project for APM Terminals Liberia; and the Regional Customer Products & Services Lead in Africa, Middle East & Asia, Metus Freeman, said the various logistics, technical know-how and training have all been provided to ensure a smooth implementation. He promised that all that is necessary will be done to bring convenience to every stakeholder in the process.

“We have had several collaborative training sessions with Custom Brokers, Importers, MTS, Banks and LRA officials on the process. What we are launching today is the product of strong collaboration between all our partners and different stakeholders, and especially LRA, and we have all worked diligently to provide the knowledge and tools needed to achieve maximum efficiency,” Freeman explained.

Also, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mawine Diggs, also a keynote speaker, observed that this new and improved way of doing business at the Free Port will have a positive effect on trade and commercial activities in Liberia as importers are able to clear their goods in good time, less costly and get them onto the market.

The project has also received strong support from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Development, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), National Port Authority (NPA), Central Bank of Liberia, Custom Brokers Association, MTS, LBDI, Ecobank, GT Bank, Maersk, CMA CGM, and MSC and customers of the Free Port.

(Liberian Daily Observer)

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