Modad Promises To Promote Liberian Entrepreneurs -Says “I understand the Liberian Business Environment”
MONROVIA: As nominees for government portfolios set their work plans on how they could contribute to the developmental agenda of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, the Minister of Commerce and Industry designate, Amin Modad said one of his priorities while in office is to help promote Liberians entrepreneur to be competitive and be major players in the economy while also encouraging foreign direct investment to spur the economy for the better of the Liberian people, stressing that he understands the Liberian business environment.
Speaking on the Spoon TV network recently, Modad who is an astute businessman said the best options open to Liberia in terms of development of its private sector base is the promotion of Liberian entrepreneurs, empower them to be competitive in the changing business climate and protect them against undue competition. He said he will deploy his vast knowledge in the public sector where he was in the forefront of trade policy and also a businessman who has been a key player in the economy.
“I do not only understand this from the policy side, I am a Liberian entrepreneur, who have been confronted with stiff competition from foreign enterprises, I was able to put myself on the platform to compete with them, so I understand the constraints that Liberian entrepreneurs are involved in, I have been involved in real estate, I have been involved in hospitality and tourism, I am even involved in the most critical sector of our economy which is the value addition of food, and I can assure you that one of my focuses is to develop Liberian entrepreneurship, giving them the platform to be competitive, give them the enabling environment for them to compete”, Modad said.
The former National Chairman of the now ruling Unity Party said that as someone who has a good understanding of the business environment both from the public and private sector perspectives, he believes his background could be added asset to turn the economy around “because in this time of our history, it is about developing our economy, to create the environment that will attract the investors so that Liberians can thrive because it is the only way we can fulfil all the other agenda”.
“If we do not create that enabling environment, the old lady in the market will not be able to aspire to go to the five star hotel to buy a bowl of rice, the young student that is coming out there will not aspire to purchase a vehicle. So there is a symbiotic relationship that we understand and that we will seek, we will thrive, we will challenge, to develop the economy”, he said
As a big player in the business setting, Modad said there are several issues that have affected Liberia’s trading environment and have kept it stunted for a long time and identified the early stage of the country’s existence where foreign powers controlled the domestic trade, the political instability the country has suffered since the 80’s which have adversely impacted the country’s trajectory, the impact of the global economy which have lingering effects on the local economy and the advent of Ebola and the COVID-19 without a clear cut recovery plan.
Responding to a question on how he will lead the Ministry differently to address the issues of unfair competition and rising prices of basic commodities, Modad said he is a proponent of free market system of demand and supply and will work towards removing monopoly for the supply of commodities, artificial monopoly which he believes rest solely on the MOCI and how they have been appropriating IPDs and managing the process.
“I will do a global assessment of prices of commodities, doing analysis of these key commodities so that prices coming to Liberia are sold fairly not to the disadvantage of the Liberian people. I believe the prices of commodities can be reduced marginally within the first 90 days and we will take a step towards it.
“I believe it is about diversification of the market so that we make these goods available to our people”, he said.
He was quick to say that he will declare his assets and liabilities once he is confirmed by the Liberian senate to send out a message that he is transparent and will not do anything to betray the public trust reposed on him by the President.
“I will declare my assets, I will recuse myself whether through a blind trust or transferring all management authority to my wife and management team, I have already started setting those things up in the three companies that I own, that will be effectuated just in a week of being confirmed
“I can assure you that while I am at the Ministry of Commerce, it will not do direct business with my companies that I own. We are not going to do any business at Bella Casa for example, even though I have recused myself
“While I led UP we have not been doing it as a profit making exercise with the UP, we have not done it and we will not do it, I am concerned about my integrity, I maintained this integrity in the worst of time. I am not going to jeopardize that.
“I have close to USD10m in asset, close to USD2 million in debts”, he said.
When asked to introduce himself, Modad presented an interesting and awesome personality he is especially the suitability of the job he was appointed to as Minister of Commerce and Industry as his experience garnered over the years speak volumes of his preparedness to hit the ground running from day one.
“I humbled by the opportunity given me by President Boakai to serve on his cabinet and serve the Liberian people, I am here mainly to give assurances to our people that I understand the environment that I am inheriting, that I understand trade and economics, the commercial sector, I understand it from two perspective, not only am I a trade development expert but also an entrepreneur. I have gone in the tranches of the Liberian economy as a key player, I know what it means to clear a container from the port and experience delays, I understand what it means to have an unfriendly business environment, I understand what it means for a Liberian entrepreneur to not have an equal playing field and to remain competitive, I understand in general what it means whether you are a Liberian entrepreneur or a foreign business to have an environment for you not to thrive. I understand the policy environment. I have been one of those who led Liberia’s post war trade development, from 2006, I have been involved in development our investment code, our trade policy.
“I led Liberia into the global trading system, I led the WTO assessment process from 2007 and even led the process to the point of the process being accepted by the WTO. And in that process of being accepted by the WTO, you have to develop your own internal process that conform with international standard that have to do with changing the trade related institutions, not just under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry”, he said among other things.