Commerce and Industry Ministry in Monrovia last week announced the commencement of a four-month technical inspection program across the country, beginning with the capital. Already, Minister Axel M. Addy with Deputy and Assistant Ministers and Inspector General have been leading the first phase of the inspection in Monrovia. Prior to the exercise which began on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, Minister Addy told a news conference at the Information Ministry’s regular press briefing last Thursday that the purpose of the inspection is to educate the public and private sector on conformity standards, while building the capacity of assigned inspectors on sector’s specific technical inspection procedures.
Buttressing the Minister’s assertion, a Commerce Ministry statement issued in Monrovia also noted that the inspection exercises would cover four technical areas to include weights and measures, food safety, standards, and storage facility, among others, further pointing out that the program would also document qualified findings and rate entities’ compliance with standards, as well as how all the cited findings would be published to ensure that corrective actions are taken by the cited business entities. Basic inspection criteria such as pricing, date coding, weights and measures verification, labelling, product appearance and presentation, packaging and legal documentation will be included in the inspection program. The mere fact that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry would choose to publicly announce an action of such nature, even though it may have miserably failed the people of Liberia, it remains to be seen whether or not the move by the Axel Addy Administration can actually change the face of the Liberian market that has become so uncontrollable and frustrating.
If this exercise is not another inflated impression before President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that someone is “working”, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry may be trying to wake up from its dismal posture since the incumbency of President Sirleaf in 2006. It is no secret that the weakening and uncontrollable price system and influx of substandard goods on the Liberia market continue to be attributed to the inability of the ministry to exert itself in exercising the statutory power provided by the Liberian Legislature over actors of the market for persons and other selfish reasons for the past eight years.
The failure of the ministry to create awareness about goods and services, as well as the price system continue to remain a major handicap of the ministry, probably, because of the embarrassment that may accompany such undertaking, owing to the competing person interests among senior, junior and middle level officials within the business community, most especially the Lebanese, Indian, Fula and Nigerian businesses across the country. So, if the ongoing inspection exercise of the ministry does not have ulterior motives because “knock-out time’ may be here, it may equally be a very good beginning of the administration of Axel Addy as Minister of Commerce and Industry.
Liberians can only hope and pray that the ongoing inspection exercise would yield positive results that would be in the best interest of the ordinary people of Liberia, who continue to submerge into abject poverty by the unending unwholesome business practices, especially by expatriates in connivance with a few Liberian officials. Again, let’s wait and see how workable the inspection exercise embarked upon by the Axel Addy administration at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will this time be. Let’s watch with an “eagle eye”.