For Skyrocketing Rice Price, House Agrees to Summon Commerce Minister

May 21, 2024 - 15:03
May 21, 2024 - 15:13
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For Skyrocketing Rice Price, House Agrees to Summon Commerce Minister

By: William K. Howard

Capitol Hill: Following huge increase in the price of Liberia’s staple food (Rice), the House of Representatives has unanimously voted, agreeing to summon Commerce and Industry Minister Amin Modad.

This follows a communication from both districts #3 and 9 Representatives, Grand Bassa and Montserrado counties.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced on Monday, May 20, 2024 that the government of Liberia along with importers of rice have agreed to move the price of a bag of rice from $16.50 to $18.50 USD.

According to the Lawmakers communication to Plenary, the new price increase is troubling for the citizens both far and near, thus the harsh realities of the exercise accordingly has the proclivity to push other commodities higher as well and cause havoc in the nation.

‘’As you may be aware, this proposed astronomical increase of $18.50 cents is a Monrovia price, least to think about our people living in towns and villages with deplorable roads condition that which will stimulate dramatic escalation in price variations because of the difficulties faced in transporting commodities to rural communities. At the result, our people will feel the pinch of the insensitive and unimaginable raise in the price of an essential consumable”.

Montserrado district #9 Lawmaker Frank Saah Foko is insisting that the matter must at all times be treated with ultimate urgency to avoid plunging situations that have the propensity to create instability in the country.

In both communications, Matthew Joe and Frank Foko recounted the April 14, 1979 riot that was caused by a proposed increment in the price of a bag of rice that left unending scars on many Liberians.

‘’Honorable colleagues, predicated upon these harsh realities, I curve your indulgence to kindly invite the Minister of Commerce and Industry to give us emphatic reasons for which we are we waking up to such an insensitive increase and how this Legislature can intervene to prevent the shocking and unrealistic price of our nation's stable food”.

The House has mandated its cief clerk to write a communication inviting Minister Amin Modad and his Leadership May 28, 2024, Next week Tuesday.

Below is a full text of their communications;

1.    Dear Hon. Speaker:

I extend compliments and bring to the attention of this august body the looming rise in the price of a 25kg Indian Parboiled Rice frequently eaten by our people.

Hon. Speaker and Distinguished Colleagues, At MICAT's press briefing yesterday, the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Amin Modad, announced that the price of a 25kg rice which is currently sold for (U$ 17), will increase to (U$ 18.50) on May 21, thereby placing more financial burden on the already struggling people.

Hon. Speaker and Distinguished Colleagues, Apple is to the Americans so as rice is to Liberians. Rice is Liberia's staple food and we cannot sit as legislators and allow this looming increment to take effect without detailed and factual information provided to us. Distinguished Colleagues, I need not remind you of the rice riot on April 14, 1979, a day that came to be known as the "Evil Saturday" in Liberian history.

In 1979, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, announced an increment in the price of a 100kg rice from (U$22) to (U$30). The new price increment did not even take effect when citizens got exasperated (angry) and jumped into the streets through a protest organized by the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL), headed by the late Gabriel Baccus Matthews. In consequence of the protest, several properties got destroyed or damaged and thousands of people got killed and wounded.

Additionally, Hon. Speaker, Distinguished Colleagues, it is reported by officials of the Unity Party government that the looming rise in the price of the 25kg Indian Parboiled Rice, is alluded to the 20% export tax imposed by the Government of India. However, it may interest you to know that the Indian Government imposed this increment since August of 2023 during the regime of former President George M. Weah. The question here is, how the former President managed to keep stable the price of rice on our market? Hon. Speaker and Distinguished Colleagues, Considering our ugly past with respect to the riot of April 14, 1979, and relative to the proposed rice increment, I humbly request this august body to invite the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Amin Modad, to appear before us and give detailed written information that informed his decision to announce an increment in the price of the 25kg rice.

With sentiments of my highest esteem, I remain.

Sincerely yours

Hon. Matthew Joe

Representative

Electoral District #3

Grand Bassa County

2: Dear Hon. Speaker,

 

Please accept my compliments and allow me bring to your attention an alarming situation regarding the sharp increase of a bag of rice on the Liberian market.

Hon. Speaker and distinguished colleagues, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Amin Modad announced on Monday, May 20, 2023 that the government of Liberia along with importers of rice have agreed to move the price of a bag of rice from $16.50 to $18.50 USD.

This new price increase is troubling for our people both far and near, thus the harsh realities of this exercise has the proclivity to push other commodities higher as well and cause havoc in our nation. As you may be aware, this proposed astronomical increase of $18.50 cents is a Monrovia price, least to think about our people living in towns and villages with deplorable roads condition that which will stimulate dramatic escalation in price variations because of the difficulties faced in transporting commodities to rural communities. At the result, our people will feel the pinch of the insensitive and unimaginable raise in the price of an essential consumable.

Honorable Speaker and distinguished colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that rice is a staple food for Liberians and as well a political commodity, for which when there seem insecurity, such matter must at all times be treated with ultimate urgency to avoid plunging situations that have the propensity to create instability.

We can vividly remember on April 14, 1979 that the proposed increment in the price of a bag of rice left unending scars on many Liberians. This eventually culminated in the 1980 bloody coup that ran into the

1990 war and heightened division until date.

Our citizens are impoverished and struggled by the days to get earns means, which signals a huge gap between the haves and have-nots. With the government attracting limited investment opportunities, this latest move is geared to create more hardships, unbearable and consequential suffering for the ordinary Liberians.

Honorable colleagues, predicated upon these harsh realities, I curve your indulgence to kindly invite the Minister of Commerce and Industry to give us emphatic reasons for which we are we waking up to such an insensitive increase and how this Legislature can intervene to prevent the shocking and unrealistic price of our nation's stable food.

Hon. Speaker and colleagues, please accept the assurances of my highest esteem and consideration.

Faithfully yours,

Hon. Frank Saah Foko, Jr.

Representative, Dist. #9

Montserrado County

 

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William K Howard William K Howard Jr is a young Liberian Journalist who is focused on investigative and human-interest reporting. He comes with about 10 years of experience in mainstream journalism. William K Howard is currently the Deputy Director of News at CT.com Liberia Limited, Kool 91.9FM/TV. His hard work has also earned him several professional certificates in journalism including Journalist of the year 2022/2023 in Liberia's biggest city, Paynesville.