Liberia: Citizens Call on Pres. Weah to Rethink Tariff Reduction on Chicken, Pig Feet

Say Major Issues Are Being Ignored

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Report by Mae Azango, [email protected] and Jackson F. Kanneh, [email protected]

Monrovia – President George Weah’s effort to alleviate hardship on Liberians through the reduction of tariffs on consumer commodities like chicken feet, pig feet, mosquito coil and vegetable oil, among others, is rather receiving some backlashes from ordinary citizens and traders.

Many feel the move, though worth commending, wouldn’t ease the current hardship in the country, which they believe is being caused by the continuous depreciation of the Liberian dollar and the hike in the price of petroleum products in addition to high tariffs on containers coming through the ports.

According to a Ministry of Information release, commodities affected by the reduction of tariff include pig feet 81%, chicken feet 63%, vegetable oil 41%, used cloth 41%, among others.

The release also added that President Weah has mandated the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to immediately proceed with the implementation of the reduction in the prices of the affected commodities to bring relief to the poor masses.

But speaking to FrontPage Africa Wednesday, May 30, several marketers and ordinary citizens expressed their frustration over the increasing exchange rate between the United States and Liberian dollars.

They said while it is a good thing for the government to reduce tariffs on goods in the country; it will make no impact once the exchange rate continues to increase.

They claimed that the exchange rate is the major cause of higher prices in Liberia, calling on the CDC led-government to do something about the exchange rate.

MOSES J. KPOTO, Dealer of stationery at RedLight Market in Paynesville

“For me, I do not understand what this government is doing to us the business people especially, the small business holders because by reducing taxes on the goods they are talking about will not help bring down the high price of commodities for our people.

What this CDC government needs to do is to look at the issue of the exchange rate, the US rate is our major problem here and it needs to be looked at before anything can be normal in this country.”

HARRIS COOPER, Petty Trader in RedLight

“If this government means well for the people that elected them, then they will try to solve the real problem which is the US rate. For some of us, our eyes opened on government during Taylor’s administration and during that era things, prices were not like this because Mr. Taylor was a man of his words; whenever he said this good price should drop, it will immediately drop.”

“So, I am calling on President George Weah to get rid of this high US rate. For me, I want this government to take the US currency entirely from the market to stop this high price all in the name of the exchange rate.”

DEDDEH GOTO, Petty Trader, Police Academy

“What I want to tell President Weah is for him to be serious about the wellbeing of the ordinary people who stood up in the sun and rain to vote for him. For some of us who voted him, whenever we are complaining about the hike in the price of commodities our friends can be laughing at us.”

“So, if he wants to put a smile on our faces, let him tackle the exchange rate first before doing any other thing in this country. Any time we go buy, prices are changing because of the exchange rate; so, let this government help us once and for all with this US rate problem.”

DAVID Z. POYE, used shoe dealer, Duport Road

“Right now, we are selling just the way we are buying, while we appreciate the government’s decision to reduce tariffs on some commodities, we are also appealing to them to look at the exchange rate.

Because even if you drop tariffs on all the goods coming into the country once the US rate is high like it is right now, things prices will still be the same.”

“Everything is important but let them deal with the exchange rate first because everything in this country is hanging on the exchange rate, so I think it should be looked at first.”

Grace Freeman, Petty Trader, Capitol Hill

Grace Freeman, sell roasted fish and chicken feet on Capitol Hill, she told FrontPageAfrica, “I felt bad when I heard that our President said that the tariff on chicken feet, pig feet, mosquito coil, and onion should be reduced because those things are local commodities. Instead, I expected him to speak on dropping the price of rice because it is our staple food and gasoline because transportation is high. I pay 130 L.D on transportation to Red-Light and 130.00 to come home whereas I used to pay L.D. 80.00 before. Dropping of the US exchange rate is also very important because when the rate is high, prices will keep going up. Even though I selling chicken feet, but it is not as important as rice, because it is very local. I want my President to go back and cancel those things he listed and call for the reduction on the price of rice, gasoline, and the US rate.

Mensiegar Karnga, Editor Women Voices Newspaper

I think the president is making a mockery out of the Liberian people because we elected this man to seek the best interest of the Liberian people but reducing prices on pig feet and mosquito coil is an insult to us. Look at the amount of mosquito net distributed by the Ministry of Health. Do you know the kind of damages mosquito coil has done to many homes that were burnt down? By this time, President Weah should be talking about bringing investment to Liberia to create jobs. Are chicken feet and pig feet basic commodities? What health benefit can we get from eating chicken feet? We are talking about the reduction in rice, and gasoline price, because transportation is high. I live on Du port Road and I pay LD 150.00 to come to town today because of the hike in gasoline price. But President Weah does not care if we walk, because he has a vehicle to ride him around, then people are celebrating him that he has done well. What has he done well with?

This is a complete mockery to the Liberian people. When former President Sirleaf said she did not have control on prices, they said she was lying, so since they have control over prices, let them control the prices now. I want president Weah to put on the economy hat and take off the politician hat and let investors come, Liberian people want jobs and not the reduction on goods like chicken feet, pig feet, vegetable oil mosquito coil, and onions.

BERRANCE GLUPEE, Dealers of backpacks, Redlight Market

“We commend the government for the step they have taken to reduce prices on the Liberian market. But I think if they want to see real changes, it is better for them to also look into the exchange issue.”

“We are having a tough time for us the petty traders because we sell in Liberian dollar why we buy in US dollar and you and myself know the current rate in the country,”

HAWA GIBSON, Resident, Paynesville City

“It is a good thing for them to lift the tariffs on certain commodities in this country, but the main problem is the exchange rate which we are calling on them to also look at. As a petty trader, we are not experiencing any price reduction because of the US rate.”

“So, we are calling on this government to please look into the exchange rate issue as well. That is the only way the prices of things will really drop for good.

Emmanuel Tamba

I listened to the President’s ultimatum to the LRA the tariff on basic commodities, but there are issues in economics that speak about competing priorities and our priority on goods should be on the reduction of rice because as our staple food, we consume rice so much rice on a daily basis.

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