The Ministry of Commerce, Rice Retailers Association, and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) recently gathered to discuss the increase of price of basic commodities on the market, especially Liberia's staple food, rice.
Speaking on behalf of the Paynesville Business Association (PBA), Mr. Abdulla Diallo, said the present exchange rate (US$1 to L$84) on the market has played a major role for the increment of prices of basic commodities in the country.
According to him, distributors compel the retailers to purchase rice in United States Dollars instead of using the Liberian Dollar, which he said is hampering their businesses.
Also speaking, Deputy Central Bank Governor, Boima Kamara told the gathering that the Central Bank of Liberia is now assisting recognized retailed rice sellers, to facilitate the exchange of local currency to foreign exchange.
He also encouraged businesses to form an organization like the Paynesville Business Association in order to easily work with the Bank.
The Central Bank of Liberia, according to Mr. Kamara, agreed to provide special Liberian Dollar service for retailed rice dealers through its research department and weekly United States Dollars auction.
For his part, the Senate Chair on Commerce, Senator Abel Massaley, told the gathering that plenary has mandated him to speak with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce and the Central Bank of Liberia on the issue of high prices of rice and other essential commodities on the Liberian market.
He welcomed the Ministry of Commerce & Industry’s initiative in engaging the retailers on the internal rice price.
Senator Massaley urged rice dealers to be more opened in their discussions with the Ministry on all issues of price and rice.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Commerce, Cyril A. Allen, II, used the occasion to call on all business operators in the country to make use of the Ministry’s Consumer Complaints division in order to resolve any problems they encounter and thanked the private sector for their usual cooperation.
In a related development, the Minister of Commerce & Industry, Axel M. Addy, has assured several business entities operating in the country of Government's support during the Ebola crisis.
The Commerce Minister made the statement recently when he toured several warehouses of major rice importers and local producers of sanitary materials at the Freeport of Monrovia.
During the inspection exercise, the Minister was accompanied by the Deputy Minister for Industry and Inspector General, Public Affairs and a group of journalists to verify the availability of rice and other essential commodities in the country.
The Minister further called on the public through the media to report any harmful practices by businesses that are not in line with the general business law of Liberia.
He also encouraged the public to join the fight against the Ebola virus by taking advantage of all the preventive measures put in place by the government and its partners.
The importers then assured the Minister that there was “enough rice” in their various warehouses and there is no need for speculation by some individuals about the lack of rice and other essential commodities on the market.