Commerce Ministry Dispels Artificial Shortage Speculations

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Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, Minister of Commerce and Industry

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has denied speculations trending on social media that the Ministry is creating artificial shortage of gasoline in Liberia.

While making a presentation on March 18 at the National Legislature on the impact of the Coronavirus on essential commodities, the Ministry of Commerce disclosed that the petroleum inventory in the country was low and would last for seven to nine days before another shipment.  During the hearing, the Ministry, represented by Minister Wilson Tarpeh, noted that the virus was affecting trade worldwide and there would be an unintended consequences as well for the Liberian market.

However, a social media post attributed to journalist John Kollie claimed that the Commerce Ministry, with the consent and support of the Minister, is creating shortages and scarcities of gasoline for personal gains.

“The Ministry wishes to inform the public that it is not aware of any cartel, neither is it part of any cartel in the Liberian petroleum industry, as claimed by Journalist Kollie,” MOC release noted.

“The Ministry is disappointed that such allegations could be made by a journalist of Mr. Kollie’s status without getting in touch with us,” the release added.

When contacted Monday evening, Mr. Kollie, Executive Director of the Liberia Media for Development Initiatives (LMDI), admitted posting his view that the Ministry was creating the problem.

“I do not want to be anything other than what I am, and I am just doing what I should do as a citizen with a voice, Mr. Kollie said, adding: “Who can we hold responsible for the hike in the price of gasoline?  Some time ago, they came out to say there will be fuel shortage and another time surplus was on the market.  Is it not because of my comment that they fined TOTAL in recent days and the price of gasoline is dropping?”

According to the Ministry in a release issued over the weekend, it continues to work along with relevant stakeholders in taking appropriate measures to keep the petroleum industry competitive and transparent as possible.

“As we speak, the Ministry, over the weekend fined TOTAL Liberia for hoarding the product, with the intent to profiteer, and is continuing with such efforts to deal with unscrupulous elements whose plans are the undermine the sector.

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