Heritage – Senate concurs with House over passage of Maritime Agreement

(Written by Abraham S. Sollie)

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1 April 2015 - The Plenary of the Liberian Senate has concurred with the House of Representatives over the passage of the Amended and Restated agreement between the Government of Liberia (GOL) and the Liberia Shipping and Corporate Registry (LISCR).

Plenary is the highest decision making body of the Senate.

The Senate concurred with the House over the passage of the agreement on Tuesday, March 31, following the presentation of a report on the document by the Senate’s Joint Committee on Maritime, Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petition.

The joint committee was mandated to peruse the document and report back to Plenary.

It can be recalled that sometimes ago, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf informed the Legislature that in pursuant to Section 3.12 of the Agreement, the GOL conducted a performance review of the Agent’s (LISCR) work and identified several areas where further improvements are required with the view to enhance the viability and profitability of the Liberian Maritime sector generally.

Some of the benefits for which the reversed amendment to be enacted into law include the development of new maritime businesses such as new flag administration businesses, ship registries, corporate registries and accompany adult services.

The benefits will also extend to acquiring or constructing of an office complex in the United States for the Liberia Registry in order to relieve the Liberian Registry of its enormous annual rental expenses as well as construct or acquire a Liberia Maritime Headquarter Complex in Liberia; designating the Agent to manage and develop the Liberia Maritime Training Institute and establish and operate a ship recycling registry.

The document also seeks to provide 25% of revenue generated from the Maritime sector to the LiMA and the remaining 75% into the consolidated account of the Liberian government.

It calls for a ten (10) year extension of the agreement signed between the GOL and LISCR.

The lawmakers took the decision to pass the agreement following a motion filed by Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson.

Seventeen(17) senators voted in favor of the agreement, 3 voted against, while one (1) senator abstained from the process.

In the report presented to Plenary, the joint committee pointed out that the agreement passed would help “lend credibility and certainty to the management of Maritime program” in Liberia.

The report divulged that the extension of the agreement between the Liberian government and LISCR will enable the agent to perform various tasks and responsibilities assigned to it by the amendment.

Some of these tasks, the report mentioned, include: the contribution of US$2M towards the acquisition of an asset in the United States for the Liberian government to be used as headquarters of the Maritime program, and the provision of funds from Liberia’s share of revenue/income from the maritime program to construct the Maritime Institute in Marshall.

The committee disclosed that the Agent (LISCR) also agrees to provide instructional programs and instructors for the Maritime Institute in Marshall after it is concluded and to also maintain and expand the maritime program to help increase Liberia’s share of revenue/income by additional 3%.

According to the committee, the agreement would also establish a ship recycling registry, which is a new form of service that the maritime program does not provide, but which is necessary for vessels included to be scrapped or otherwise taken out of operations.