Liberia is currently experiencing an unfortunate economic difficulty despite its captivating and development-oriented economic policies. For the last two fiscal years running, ‘budget shortfall’ has become the nation’s new slogan. While some, including members of the Legislature are attributing the situation to the inability of Minister Amara Konneh and the Ministry of Finance to manage the financial sector, others are also apportioning bulk of the blame on the lawmakers for including additional sources of revenue amounting to more than US$30m, without being sensitive to the technical financial ‘know-how’ of revenue generation. But another major factor that we all may be abreast with is our inability to export. While we may have already addressed the foregoing, it is also important to note that the ‘intentional complacency’ exhibited by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to regulate the nation’s price system is equally negatively impacting the socio-economic life of Liberians.
When Commerce Minister Axel M. Addy took over the affairs of the ministry immediately upon serving as deputy Minister for Commerce and Industry, he committed himself to ensuring an effective and efficient price regulatory system- a commitment too far from meeting as evidenced by the uncontrollable prices of goods and services across the country. It is no secret that every business man or woman-Lebanese, Indian, Nigerian, as well as Ghanaian and Fula prices goods and services the way he or she likes. They most often, even hike prices, disregarding the regulations, probably because of their ‘personal contacts with the minister or other officials of the Ministry of Commerce.
Granted the foregoing may not be the actual fact, one may again wonder as to why would these foreign business people have their own way of transacting business with Liberians in such reckless and exploitative manner when there are national laws to which they must subscribed. Why the official regulatory- the Ministry of Commerce, would chose to remain conspicuously silent on such uncontrollable and negative interactions within the price system?
At the moment, commercial drivers have even join such economic ‘gangsterism’’, charging/demanding fares at the own accord under the guise of increment in petroleum products on the Liberian market. For example, these drivers demand the payment of LD$80.00 from the commercial district of Paynesville Red Light to central Monrovia in a very hostile approach to the disadvantage of the ordinary passengers, while no one cares.
Now that this matter may be becoming unacceptable and intolerable, the immediate intervention of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf could be the only way. Like Past leaders of Liberia, Madam President must execute the radical and solvable approach for these undesirable foreign business people to adhere to the laws of Liberia in the interest of the citizens. Our fear is that the continuation of these unfair business practices by these foreign businesses may result to a crisis that may further deepen our economic woes.