By Sami Zaptia.
London, 26 February 2021:
The Tripoli Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture rejected the explanations and justifications by Acing Finance Minister, Faraj Bumtari, for introducing the Electronic Cargo Tracking Note (ECTN) system.
The Minister [restrict paid=”true”] had been defending his decision on a live Libyan TV programme on Wednesday night. It came in reaction to a demonstration held opposite Tripoli Port by chambers, customs clearers, shipping agents and small businesses.
The main defence by the Minister of the system was that it prevented corruption and the waste of Libya’s fast depleting hard currency by fraudulent import transactions whereby undervalued goods were imported to transfer hard currency abroad.
His response to the questionable process by which the contract was awarded to a Turkish company and the excessive prices it is charging Libyan importers, was deemed weak by the Chamber. [/restrict]
It will be recalled that the demonstrators complained that the real stakeholders were not consulted on the introduction of the ECTN system.
They stressed that it will hurt the poorer people in society most, increasing prices by anything from 15-25 percent and that its introduction has led to the blockage of goods in ports accruing fines to be paid in hard currency.
The demonstrators had announced five demands:
- Stop the ECTN system immediately.
- Release all goods currently blocked in Libyan ports.
- The Ministry of Finance (the parent of the Customs Authority) must bear the port charges incurred due to ECTN delay.
- A local system should be introduced to replace ECTN.
- The government has 5 days to agree to these demands or there will be a strike by stakeholders.
Its unclear now whether the Chamber will indeed go ahead with its threatened strike.