Sen. Lawrence wants emergency session over the increase in rice price and others
By Ethel A Tweh
Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Kangar – Lawrence is calling on the Legislature to immediately return from Easter and constituency break and hold an emergency session to ensure that the increase in the prices of rice and other commodities are dealt with.
She took to social media recently saying that the Liberian government through the Minister of Commerce has denied that there’s a shortage of rice in the country, and also challenged citizens to present receipts showing increase in the price of rice by vendors.
“This morning, I was informed by my mother that she had gone to all the stores to purchase rice in Grand Bassa and can’t find a bag to purchase, and asked me to take some rice from Monrovia,” Madam Karnga – Lawrence wrote.
“I was already [en route] to Bassa and stopped by a store in ELWA, a block from where the President of Liberia lives, and bought two bags for fifty-five United States dollars …,” she added.
Madam Karnga – Lawrence who chairs the Rules, Order and Administration at the Liberian Senate, said the price of rice has now doubled in less than one month.
She urged the Government of Liberia to immediately make this a priority and ensure that rice is supplied to the market and sold at the approved price of $13.50.
Senator Karnga – Lawrence also indicated that the price of a bag of cement has also jumped from $8.00 to $10 with no justification, and gas and fuel prices have doubled as well.
Meanwhile, President George Manneh Weah recently took a tour of various rice warehouses in Monrovia. During his tour, he warned against increasing the price of rice on the market, contrary to the government’s approved price of $13.00. President Weah emphasized that “the price must be the price.”
“Rice is our staple food, and we will not tolerate people selling it at an exorbitant price,” the president warned.
President Weah assured Liberians that the government will increase its monitoring mechanism to deter would-be violators, saying business people are in the constant habit of profiteering.
“We will enforce the law to ensure that we deter those trying to blow up the price,” President Weah stated.
The looming global food crisis appears to have already hit Liberia in the wake of growing scarcity of the nation’s staple rice on the local market despite the government here dismissing reports of shortage.
For more than a week, retailers have been scrambling at distribution centers in Monrovia for supplies that are not available or are being hoarded for eventual hike in price.
Rice is dubbed a political commodity in Liberia and its shortage led to the infamous “1979 Rice Riot” that turned bloody in the streets of Monrovia and subsequently led to the overthrow of President Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr. on April 12, 1980, by the military.
A 25-kilogram bag of rice is sold in Monrovia for between US$13 and $14 dollars, but importers are rationing sales with local retailers.
Marketers are particularly complaining of discrimination characterized by running battles between police protesters in the commercial district of Bushrod Island.
On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, several market women involved in the retail sale of rice expressed their frustrations about the scarcity, issuing threats.
One marketer, Hawa Pawoo revealed that a 25-kg bag of rice is being sold for US$20 or an equivalent of 3,000 Liberian Dollars.
Another marketer, Sadia Guha, a widow, lamented that in the face of rice price rising to 3,000 LD, it has become worrisome in feeding her four children.
The Ministry of Commerce late Tuesday, April 5, 2022, said it had observed that retail businesses are consistently increasing the retail price of a bag of rice on the market despite the official wholesale price remaining at US$13.00 per bag.