Just late last week again, the Commerce Ministry announced to the public a donation of a consignment of Twelve-Thousand Metric Tons of rice by the Government of Japan. According to the ministry, the consignment of rice was expected to dock in Liberia on Monday, September 23, 2013. The ministry, in a statement issued in Monrovia, suggested that proceeds from the rice, which would be sold at US$14.50 per Thirty kilograms, will be deposited in a local bank for the purpose of ‘food security’ in Liberia.
The arrival of the consignment of rice from Japan comes after the last consignment in 2010, for which the ministry continues to find it difficult to account following its sale. While it may be untimely to render any judgment against the Axel M. Addy administration at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding the success of the project, the past history of the ministry from 2006 in terms of the execution of its statutory mandate may equally be enough for anyone to assume that history may just repeat itself.
It is no secret that since the inception of the Ellen Sirleaf Administration in 2006, the ministry has done very little to ensure the stability of the Liberian market and its price system. While present and past ministers and officials, including Commerce Inspectors pretended as if they were on top of the mandate of the ministry across the country, substandard and expired goods flooded and continue to flood the shelves of supermarkets, stores and shops, prices of goods and services, occluding transportation fares are determined unregulated by Lebanese, Indian, Fula and Nigerian merchants to the detriment of the general public.
Perhaps, this is always why confidence and trust in the ministry‘s resolve to handle the country’s commerce and grooming its industry are either limited or nowhere among Liberians. And when Mr. Axel M. Addy-the new Commerce and Industry Ministry vowed, during a media dialogue a month after he took over, that “he envisioned the ministry in a new direction towards a more effective and efficient commerce”, many thought to watch him (Minister Addy) with an ‘eager eye’ for the first hundred days. But as we see, following his first hundred days in office, it has become more difficult to believe his vow and success of the ministry – the same old story of his predecessors since 2006.
So far, news of the donation of Twelve-Thousand metric tons of Japanese rice to the Liberian Government and “what to be done with such donation” may just be the only tangible development at the ministry after hundred days under Minister Addy.
Even though public perception may not totally favor the Commerce Ministry due to its dismal performance since 2006, perhaps, Addy needs another hundred days to neutralize such negative perception- truly indeed, he must be given another hundred days and let’s see what happens to the price system, as well as substandard and expired goods on the shelves of supermarkets, stores and shops owned and managed by the Lebanese, Indians, Fulas, as well as the Nigerians, among others.
Let’s challenge the Minister and see the future.