Despite efforts by Government and its partners to stabilize the nation, particularly the economy, amid the unprecedented health crisis that has nearly paralyzed the world, unscrupulous individuals are still bent on mischief, orchestrating instability tactics to aggravate the population. Recently, these elements of mischief threw in the public space rumors about the shortage of rice and petroleum, the two so-called “political commodities” that are ideal chips often used to inflame dissent and chaos when they are short on the market. In few days, it appears dawn on the nation that the rumormongers’ intent is being expressed in the artificial shortage of rice on the Liberian market. But the Government, through the Ministry of Commerce, is not taking the mischief lightly, hooting a stern warning to the business community against hoarders of the country’s staple. The Analyst reports.
What appeared to be mere rumors weeks ago is seem to be actualized by some unscrupulous rice dealers who are seemingly creating artificial shortage of Liberia’s staple, rice. The price of rice has jumped to over $3,000 in Monrovia, and there are reports that the price is more astronomical in the countryside.
But the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI), which oversees local and international trade, has issued a stern warning against hoarders, vowing reprimands.
It a release, the Ministry said its attention is immediately drawn to increased speculations pointing to shortage of Liberia’s staple food rice, when the country’s current rice inventory shows that such speculations are far from the reality.
“Based on the current inventory, there are 40,000 Metric Tons of rice in the country, accounting for 1.6 million bags of the 25Kg Rice. The available quantity has the capacity to supply the local rice market for approximately three months,” an MCI statement averred.
“In addition, a consignment of 30,000 Metric Tons, equivalent to 1.2 million bags of rice is expected into Liberia in July this year, that will sustain the local market for two months. Out of this quantity expected in July, 18,000 Metric Tons are due between July 12 and 18, 2020,” the Ministry of Commerce indicated, noting that an additional supply of 55,000 Metric Tons are expected into the country in August, accounting for 2.2 million bags of 25KG rice, equivalent to about four months’ supply.
“We would also like to make it emphatically clear that the approved retail price for the 25Kg bag of Rice is US$13.50 (Thirteen United States Dollars and fifty cents). Against this backdrop, the Commerce Ministry is warning against unwholesome practices in the Liberian business sector, including but not limited to hoarding of any commodity for that matter or arbitrarily stepping up its price. The Commerce Ministry will not relent to apply the appropriate laws in going after those whose inordinate desire is to profiteer at the expense of the public, especially during these testing days of the Coronavirus Pandemic in Liberia,” the Ministry intimated.
“At the same time, we admonish the public to work along with the Ministry’s Inspectorate by reporting any unhealthy practices in the Liberian business sector as collaboration plays a pivotal role in curtailing such unwholesome activities,” the MCI statement concluded.