-AS reported shortages get serious
Leaders of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 28 September held talks with rice importers here amidst continued reports that the nation’s staple is scarce on the market.
The House leadership also met other functionaries from the Executive in the wake of several complaints from citizens across the country relating to the rice issue.
Citizens have complained here that rice suppliers have allegedly forced them to purchase other commodities like flour and milk before being allowed to buy rice.
These complaints have prompted lawmakers to invite rice importers.
Upon his arrival in Liberia from the 77th United Nations General Assembly, President George Manneh Weah thrashed the reports about the scarcity of rice in the Liberian market as “news in the street.”
He urged Liberians to keep calm and promised to verify the information that has become a rising concern to the public.
Despite dismissing the seriousness of the scarcity of rice, the crisis continues to persist, as both distributors and retailers cue in lines for an entire day without having access to the nation’s staple.
The House invited the importers Wednesday to discuss the issue of the availability of rice on the Liberian market, as well as the allegation that they are compelling buyers to purchase other commodities as criteria to be served rice.
The importers namely: K&K Corporation, United Commodities Inc (UCI), and Supply West Africa Trading (SWAT) attended the meeting.
They gave assurances but noted that there are challenges. They told the lawmakers that rice is available for up to November this year.
According to SWAT, it is expecting smaller vessels with rice that will last up to December until APM Terminals completes dredging of the Port of Monrovia and allow entry of bigger vessels.
Meanwhile, the House leadership urged the importers to act swiftly as the issue of rice is nothing to overlook in Liberia.
At the same time, lawmakers are calling on the Executive to coordinate with the Legislature for the revision of the APM Terminals Agreement, something that it said will bring mutual benefits to the Country.
The House through its Speaker Bhofal Chambers has called on the Ministry of Commerce to take punitive measures against any importer demanding buyers to purchase other commodities they did not intend to purchase.
Apart from the importers, others who attended the meeting included Acting Minister of Finance Samora Wolokollie, Liberia Revenue Authority Commissioner General Thomas Doe Nah, and a representative of the Ministry of Commerce.
The House leadership is expected to hold another discussion with two importers, Fouta Corporation and Fouani Brothers Corporation this Friday, 30 September.–Press release