MONROVIA, Dec 26 (LINA) - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has issued Executive Order No. 53, ordering a moratorium on public land sale and all transactions, including the issuance of Tribal Certificates and Town Lot Certificates by private individuals, entities, and groups as well as all government functionaries involved in public land transactions. According to the Liberia News Agency, the Order, signed December 20, 2013, warns that all Tribal Certificates or Town Lot Certificates issued by any local authority during the period of the moratorium will be considered illegal and void. Meanwhile, President Sirleaf has constituted a nine-member Screening Committee to vet all Public Land Deeds in the country and work in accordance with the Interim Guidelines and Procedures for the Sale of Public Land, issued in 2011, as recommended by the Land Commission. Members of the Committee, headed by the Chairperson of the Land Commission, also includes the Ministers of Justice, Internal Affairs, Public Works, Agriculture, and Lands, Mines & Energy. Others are the Chairman of the National Investment Commission, the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority, and the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency. Current issues surrounding the sale of public land continue to pose serious challenges to ensuring equal access, security of tenure and the rule of law with regards to public land transactions. In a related development, President Sirleaf has issued Executive Order No. 54, temporarily suspending import tariff as well as goods and services tax on commercial public transport buses, operating for the commercial transportation of persons and goods. The Order, also signed on December 20, suspends goods and services tax on all buses intended to be used for public commercial transport purposes. Additionally, the Liberian leader has suspended the import tariff as well as goods and services tax on spare parts for the National Transit Authority (NTA). The suspension specifically applies to assorted spare parts for NTA, consistent with Ashok Leyland spare parts catalogue, assorted tires for NTA mass transit buses, and assorted tools and equipment for repair and maintenance of NTA buses. Importers will only pay the customs user fee of 1.5 percent and the ECOWAS trade levy of 0.5 percent where applicable, according to an Executive mansion release quoted by LINA. As public transport infrastructure remains a key priority of the Government under the Agenda for Transformation, the need exists to continuously improve public access to efficient, safe and reliable commercial transport services, thereby reducing difficulties and hardships faced by commuters, and consequently reducing the cost of goods and services. The two Executive Orders take immediate effect.
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