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Liberian Gov’t Announces Arrival Of 150K Metric Tons Of Rice Soon”

Amidst scarcity of rice, Liberians’ staple food on the Liberian market, the government of Liberia has announced a shipment of rice that is expected in the country beginning “October to early November” of this year.

“We want to announced that beginning October to early November of this year, subsequent supplies of rice totaling over 150,000 metric tons will be in country which will supply the market up to the early part of next year, and this is in addition to the 22,000 metric tons expected in the coming days,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) release said.

Reading the MOCI release Tuesday, October 4, 2022 on behalf of the government, Deputy Information Minister for Press and Public Affairs, Jalawah Tonpo further assured that the current stock of rice in country can also serve the market up to the arrival of the next vessel.

According to him, although there have been delays in the incoming consignments due to vessel restrictions resulting from the ‘Safe Notice’ issued by the National Port Authority (NPA) on the 10th of August 2022, sufficient rice has been supplied to retailers to serve the general public.

Minister however at the same time attributed the situation to high regional pricing of rice above Liberian price something he said has also placed significant pressure on the buffer stock in Liberia.

The country’s Deputy MICAT boss stressed, “Hence, this price discrepancy has given retailers the incentive to hoard rice in order to sell across the border for the sake of profiteering.”

Liberian government press release

“Over the last two fiscal years, the government set import subsidy at US$5.5 million in the Special 2021budget and US$11 million in the current 2022 budget, respectively. To date, about US$14 million has also been given to importers,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister Tonpo is also calling on the public to remain calm and refrain from panic buying, while at the same time warned retailers to desist from hoarding of the commodity.

“We therefore encourage businesses to continue to carry out unrestricted sale of rice, void of price hiking and profiteering at the expense of the ordinary people. The government remains committed to its PAPD by ensuring riced and other essential commodities remains available and affordable,” he maintained.

Minister Tonpo then disclosed further that inspectors of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry along with National Security apparatus will not hesitate to take actions where necessary against anyone caught in violation while closely monitoring activities in the market.

It can be recalled prior to the government stance on the situation, African Entertainment observed that several business people were seen exploring all avenues in order to purchase some bags of rice.

According to our Liberia correspondent who toured various warehouse across Monrovia, elderly women were seen battling their male counterpart and jumping over a rice warehouse believed to be owned by Fouani for the product.

Our reporter added that government officials from both the Ministries commerce and Industry and Information, including officers from the Liberia National Police were also denied entry due to huge presence and tussle of crowd.

It can be recalled that about fortnight ago, the have trending noise of rice shortage on the Liberian market thus leading to citizens standing in long queues in front various stores just to buy few bags of rice.

As a result of the rice shortage, citizens were also being force by dealers to buy different commodities above LD1000 (US$6.50) to being allowed to purchase a bag of rice, something which many described as “unjust and wickedness.”

“Rice is sold at L$3,500 [US$23.00]. The businessman told me before I can buy a bag of rice, I must buy L$1000 (US$6.50) worth of other items that I do not need. Can you imagine that and this is just so unfair,” Mary Weah, a petty trader told AEN.

“I can no longer afford to give my children what they really need in terms of food. The sudden increase in the price of rice means we have to cook less and just manage. It is really getting bad,” Christine Moore also intoned.

Deputy Information Minister for Press and Public Affairs, Jalawah Tonpo

But in response to the cries of Liberians about the situation, President George M. Weah upon his return to the country from the 77th UNGA summit said he believes there was no rice shortage on the market.

“We need not always listen to the street gossips. This is not the first time it has happened. Those responsible for importing rice say we have rice up to next year. I don’t believe there’s rice scarcity. I believe there is rice. We will verify it again. Don’t listen to the noise in the street,” he said.

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