Home Economy No Rice Shortage… Commerce Ministry Assures; As Rice Importers, GOL Continue Dialogue

No Rice Shortage… Commerce Ministry Assures; As Rice Importers, GOL Continue Dialogue

by newsmanager

MONROVIA: In recent times, there has been controversy over demands by rice importers to increase the price of the commodity on the local market and the decision of the Liberian Government against rice price increment.

Commerce Minister Amid Modad and his team at the ministry have been holding talks with the rice dealers for mutual resolution of the rice price situation and to avert a national crisis.

The commerce minister announced yesterday that President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and his “RESCUE MISSION” are still engaged with the rice importers aimed at addressing their concerns, particularly regarding the increasing costs of doing business and bottlenecks as raised by the rice dealers.

The Ministry of Commerce, has, at the same time, said there is no rice shortage in the country or further increase in the price of the commodity as it is being speculated.

Modad cautioned the business community to sell the 5% Indian Parboiled rice at the stipulated price of US16.75 per 25kg bag.

He warned entities or individuals found hoarding, hiking, or creating other forms of artificial shortage of the commodity on the market will face the full weight of the law.
“The Inspectorate of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry will be vigilant in monitoring and inspecting warehouses and business entities for compliance,” he averred.

The Ministry of Commerce had earlier announced that government had negotiated with rice importers to drop their demand for an increment of a 25kg bag of Indian rice previously sold at US$16.50 to US$20.

Modad’s Wednesday, May 22, 2024, pronouncement followed President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s Tuesday meeting with rice importers, majority of whom are Lebanese merchants.

At the meeting, President Boakai said his government will not tolerate any “increase in rice price.”

President Boakai’s statement was contained in an update by Presidential Press Secretary, Kula Fofana, from a closed-door meeting held with major rice importers Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at the Executive Mansion.

Following a brief meeting between President Joseph Boakai and rice importers in Monrovia on Tuesday, President Boakai has mandated rice importers not to increase any price of rice, and that the price of a 25kg bag of rice remains the same.

Minutes after the Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced an increment of the commodity on Monday, May 20, prices of a 25kg bag of rice jumped from $16.75 to $20.050, in many parts of the city center, with reports of as high as US$22.00 in cities such as Kakata, Harel, Buchanan, Ganta, and Gbarnga.

The rice importers had earlier written to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, proposing a minimum price of US$20 per 25kg bag of parboiled rice to offset the rising cost of importing rice.

The importers claimed that a 20% surcharge is being levied on the commodity by the Indian government.

India imposed a 20% surcharge on parboiled rice, which has impacted the price of rice. Additionally, they (rice importers) cited the war in Ukraine and issues in the Middle East that also impacted freight, insurance, and timing.

Major importers of the commodity have been playing politics and threatening shortages if the government does not agree to a price hike due to the 20% export tax extended by India on parboiled rice even though the government of Liberia, continued to take steps to advert the hike by these rice importers by suspending import tariffed to offset export charges experienced by the importers.
To advert this increment in rice price, both former President George Weah and President Joseph N. Boakai issued three separates executive orders suspending import tariff on rice which is classified under tariff numbers 1006.30.00, in packing of more than 5kg or in the bulk; 1006.30.00, in packing of at least 5kg and 1006.40.00 (broken rice) under the Revenue Code of Liberia Act of 2000.

The issuance of executive orders by both presidents is intended to bring relief to the Liberian people, underscoring the government’s commitment to ensuring that prices of certain commodities on the market, including rice, remain affordable as not to impose unnecessary burden on the people.

Amid such efforts, it is believed that rice cartel continues to roam at the detriment of the ordinary people who cannot afford any price increment.

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