Liberia: Senator Criticizes Government over Adjustments in the Price of Rice; Demands Audit
Monrovia – Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, has strongly condemned recent statement issued by the Liberian government adjusting the price of rice.
According to the statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce, the wholesale price of 25kg rice has been pushed from US$13.50 to US$17.00 while the retail price has been increased from US$14.00 to US$17.50 respectively.
By: Selma Lomax
And Senator Karnga-Lawrence believes the adjustments are untimely and only intended to “escalate the untold hardship” Liberians are enduring under the watch of President Weah.
She described the situation as “sad” and “objectionable”, particularly at a time when citizens go to bed hungry and civil servants no longer take pay on time.
She wants the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to answer questions regarding such adjustments, after receiving money from the national legislature to subsidize rice importers.
“The Ministry of Commerce received over eleven million United States dollars ($11,000,000usd) to subsidize rice. Without presenting any proposal to the legislature, the budget was passed, approving the amount,” she said.
“The commerce ministry made payments to three rice importers with no agreements, no documents to show how much each of the three importers received, how would these transactions benefit the Country, and for how long,” Sen. Karngar-Lawrence furthered.
“How did we benefit from the subsidy to keep the price of rice at $13.50 and $14.00, wholesale and retail and have never been able to keep it under $17.50 since the money was paid?” She asked.
“The legislature has not cooperated with our disagreements as usual, but these are some of the reasons why we refused to vote for the passage of the National budget,” the Liberty Party Political Leader continued.
She said the situation questions the credibility of Commerce Minister, Mawine Diggs and the Ministry in entirety as she demands an audit for the record and future actions.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence explained that an audit is important and would set a precedent to deter individuals who syphon public funds for self-aggrandizement.
The recent adjustment in the price of rice has sparked outrage amongst Liberians, with many taking to social media Facebook to express their frustrations. Karishma Radd, a representative aspirant of District number 10 in Monsterrado County, wrote a letter to President Weah on Facebook: Dear President George Weah, you promised the people of Liberia that rice reduction was gonna be one of the things you were gonna do when you take power. Now, under your administration, a 25kg bag of rice is now sold for $17.50. First time in Liberia history for government to approve such price.”
“We were buying 50kg for $18 to $20 during the previous administration of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, now we are gonna be buying 25kg for 17:50 or even more because businesspeople buying to go, and sell won’t just add 0.50 cent only because they need to transport the rice and pay rent or workers as well. With such price approved, you’re not living up to the Pro-poor strong agenda and you’re also showing that you don’t have the country and its people at heart. This is terrible & sad.”
Another Liberian, Prince Morris, responded to a Facebook post about the latest increment in the price of rice. “We are the cause of our problems in Liberia, the illiteracy rate is high and, on the increase, and as such, the people have not learned anything. The suffering in the country has just begun. The interesting thing about the entire drama is that people who can’t afford are the ones creating the problem because they are in the majority.”
Jonah Dolo, another Liberian, also shared his thoughts about the adjustment in the price of rice. “This is a clear manifestation of a selfish leadership from the Coalition for Democratic Change government under President George Weah. I have resolved since 2018, my mind is made up and they’re going to payback all the stolen governmental utensils. Hope and pray that the next leadership thinks in our direction.”