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Editorial: Commerce Ministry: Flexing Statutory Muscles

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Since 2006, there seems to be no attempt to properly regulate the prices of goods and services which continue to “sky-rise” at will across Liberia. As a result, Lebanese and other foreign merchants continue to decide the fate of thousands and thousands of consumers by determining how their goods and services are priced. The boisterous manner in which most of these  business people defend their actions against the Liberian people leaves one to wonder as to what is actually  going wrong with our price system as it relates to the role of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry-the institution created by Liberian Law to regulates goods and services, as well as their prices.

It is no doubt that since the inception of the Ellen Sirleaf Administration, Liberia’s market continues to experience confused price variations and increases without tangible actions by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for total control in the general interest of the consuming Liberia public. While the Ministry must be appreciated for some ‘good steps’ to improve the business atmosphere in Liberia, thus attracting foreign merchants, as well as propelling the interest of Liberian businesses, its main challenges of price control and regulating goods and services must be a matter of urgency if it should be actually seen as executing its duties and functions as enshrined in the Act creating it.

But to allow Lebanese and other foreign merchants to have their own ways in the Republic of Liberia through “several means” without any action by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in compatible with the business law of Liberia and other regulations may only suggest to the general consuming public that something must be going wrong..  Interestingly in certain quarters of the general Liberian society (which is also the consuming public), the general perception is that the Ministry which should be a true representation their consuming interest has now become the interest of the “business people” because …

And of course, in a gullible society such as ours blaming them would be unfair because the Ministry may just be doing nothing practical towards price control or to provide adequate and periodic information and education about the Liberian market. The challenge, therefore, before the current authorities of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is to be proactive in all of its efforts, putting aside all of the individual interests and friendship with business people, to ensure the flexibility of the Liberian market in terms of properly controlling/regulating the prices of goods and service across the country.

It would be a major ‘under-achievement’ for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry under the present administration if it failed to be upright in exercising its statutory responsibilities before the expiration of the current term of the Government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

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