Sethi Accused Of Undermining PAPD’s 39th Promise–Allegedly Stifles Liberian Business Climate
The 39th promise of President George Manneh Weah as proffered during his inaugural address to the nation in January 2018, to remove “unnecessary restraints” on businesses in the country, especially to make Liberians not to be spectators in their own economy, is allegedly being undermined by Rasphael Singh (Paul Sethi).
A group of Liberian business organizations under the banner of United Liberians for Justice and Rule of Law (ULJRL) has accused the CEO and owner of Farouk Steel Manufacturing Company, Rasphael Singh, of undermining the CDC-led “Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PADP)”.
The group, ULJRL, is comprised of the Liberia Scrap Dealers Association (LSDA), Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) and Fula Business Association of Liberia (FBA).
Making the disclosure recently during a major press conference, Dominic Nimely, leader of ULJRL and President of PATEL, alleged that despite being given exclusive rights over Liberian businesses, Sethi and his steel manufacturing company, Farouk Steel, and plastics manufacturing and processing plant, Duraplast, are manufacturing and, at the same time distributing and retailing, fake products, and as well serving as distributor/ retailer.
According to Nimely, the government or the public sector cannot employ more than the private sector and, equally so, little businesses are the backbone of the economy.
He added that it is now time to remind Paul Sethi and his cronies that enough is enough for people who come into the country to exploit and enslave Liberians.
Frustrated over his attitude, Dominic Nimely angrily alleged, “We have invited Paul Sethi on several occasions, but he has refused to attend to our calls.” He alleged further that Paul Sethi has ignored all that was laid down in the agreement he signed with the government and the people of Liberia.
“Paul Sethi is very stubborn and does not care for anyone because he feels that he can take our money and buy our government. The Indian businessman has become a billionaire in our county,” Nimely opined.
“Out of 500 workers hired,” Nimely claimed, “only about twenty-five percent of that number are employed, noting that Liberians cannot be slaves in their country in daylight.”
The PATEL president also used the occasion to entreat lawmakers and other officials of the government, whom Paul Sethi allegedly often claimed are in his pocket, to remember that they would want to get re-elected, so business as usual where self-interest takes precedence over national interest is not helpful.
“Sethi has employed security officers and have them positioned at all border points to deny Liberians from importing and exporting plastics materials in and out of the country,” he alleged.
Other representatives from the three Liberian business groups, including the LSDA President, Ayoubah Kamara, also claimed that the conduct of Paul Sethi, allegedly continuously cheating the business community by manufacturing low quality and fake goods on the local market, has the tendency of undermining the business environment of the nation.
For his part, Mohammed M. Barrie, President of the Fula Business Association of Liberia, observed that Rasphael Singh or Paul Sethi is now operating outside of the 2016 Incentive Agreement, wherein certain percentage should be given to Liberian scrap dealers, but had rather opened the business to buy scrap materials to the disadvantage of the sellers.
“There are many problems that we are having with Paul Sethi. He is the sole manufacturer, distributor in the country which is not healthy for the economy,” Barrie voiced.
It can be recalled that in his inauguration speech in January 2018, that President Weah promised to address the “unnecessary restraints” on business in a country that ranks near the bottom.
President George Weah said, “To the private sector, I say to you, Liberia is open for business. We will do all that is within our power to provide an environment that will be conducive for the conduct of honest and transparent business.”
The Liberian leader declared that no longer would Liberians be spectators in their economy, as Indian and Lebanese immigrants dominate retail and services, while Western and Asian firms own the vast majority of rubber, palm and iron ore operations.
Sekou Sheriff, in his capacity as Public Relations Officer for the affected business institutions in the country, posted on Facebook that the peaceful march of several Liberian businesses and Liberian workers from Paul Sethi’s factories under the banner of the United Liberians for Justice and Rule of Laws is slated for May 19, 2022 onward. The group march to the Capitol Building, the home of Liberian legislators, then to the US embassy, European Union and other embassies in Monrovia.