A group under the banner of “the National United Bakers, Chefs and Allied Workers Union of Liberia (NUBACAWUL)” has threatened a strike action against the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
Last week at a press conference the group said, MOC has failed to sign its Import Permit Declaration (IPD) document. The IPD would enable NUBACAWUL to import goods, specifically flour, into the country. The group said importing goods related to their job has been the responsibility of the ministry since 2013.
According to the group’s Deputy Secretary for Operations, Joseph Jallah, “[Commerce] Minister Axel Addy continues to delay signing our IPD because of his own motives.”
“This is unacceptable and we are not going to sit here and allow a government official to put his interests above those of Liberian-owned businesses,” he said, adding, “We are going to stage a demonstration, if the Ministry of Commerce and Industry does not approve our request.”
He said, the refusal of Minister Addy to give them exclusive import rights is responsible for recent flour shortages in the country.
“I’m saying this, because he keeps allowing foreign businesses to maintain a monopoly over Liberian-owned businesses for personal gain,” Mr. Jallah alleged.
According to him, “We have written several communications to the Minister, but those efforts have fallen on ‘deaf ears.’”
“Some of our letters dated February 4, 2014 and April 1, 2014, calling for meetings were turned down by him without any reason.
What are they doing as Liberia’s Ministry of Commerce when they can’t control prices of commodities on the market?” he asked.
He continued, “There is no collaboration between the Union and the Ministry to regulate the importation of commodities.”
“This has caused a rapid increase in the price of flour, while allowing foreign business people to import low quality products into the country,” he pointed out.
He said that NUBACAWUL has received complaints through 93 communications from professional bakers in six counties, including; Montserrado, Nimba, Bong Grand Bassa, Margibi and Grand Gedeh.
Mr. Jallah called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to consider their request and avoid their pending strike action.
All attempts to contact Minister Addy proved futile until press time.