Liberia: Commerce Ministry Cites Artificial Scarcity Rice on the Market, Promises to Go After Would-be Violator

Monrovia – As fear grips Liberians on the reported shortage of rice, the staple food, the Minister of Commerce and Industry Madam Mawine G. Diggs says there is no need to worry as rice is in enough supply in the country.

The Minister made the statement over the weekend at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.

“I want to state clearly that there is absolutely no shortage of rice on the market and therefore, there is no need for panic buying as we have observed. The wholesale price of rice remains at US$13 and there is a sufficient stock of rice in the country,” she said.

She added, “Report reaching our entity suggests that individual businesses are selling at high prices and in some cases they are holding on to the commodity thus creating artificial scarcity on the market.”

According to the Commerce Minister, to mitigate the report that has reached her office, a team of inspectors from the Ministry will be deployed around the country to enforce the approved prices of commodities on the market.

“It is important to know collectively that the five major importers of rice have approached the government on the need to increase the price of rice by 2US$ as the result of multiple global supply challenges,” Madam Diggs said.

Despite the importers’ demand, Madam Diggs said, “However, the rice importers have committed to continue the wholesale of rice to local retailers.”

The Minister Commerce said the government is aware of the complaint from the five importers and other relevant stakeholders that it will ensure that rice is available and affordable.

“The government wants to assure all retailers to buy and sell at normal and can be reassured that there is no shortage and the government of Liberia is taking all necessary steps to ensure that they continue to conduct business as usual,” she said.

She added: “To all citizens, you are asked to notify the Ministry of any increase in prices of rice on the market or holding of the commodity within the market. Your cooperation and support is critical in ensuring the control of prices on the market.”

Based on the current record, there are 40,000 metric tons of rice in the country, accounting for 1.6 million bags of the 25Kg rice. The available quantity has the capacity to supply the local rice market for approximately three months.

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