Minister of Commerce, Mawine Diggs has begun touring warehouses of major importers of commodities in Liberia to see first the number of goods including Liberia’s staple food (rice) and other goods imported into the country.
Speaking to reporters at the climax of her first tour, Minister Diggs said she was able to ascertain that there are more commodities on the ground for consumption and importers have assured that additional commodities were expected in the country shortly.
Minister Diggs who recently took office told a team of reporters that the tour was in continuation of where her predecessors stopped. During her tour, she also met with commerce inspectors at the National Port Authority (NPA).
The Minister and her team visited the Fouani Brothers Corporation, United Commodities Incorporated (UCI) and the Supplying West Africa Traders (SWAT).
“This tour has made us know that there are more commodities in stock and is good to know that there are lots of commodities that are coming in the country. I am satisfied with what I see in the facilities that these commodities are stored and how they are being handled,” she said.
Madam Diggs also expressed delight over the employment of many Liberians at these entities, adding, “It is quite incredible that they have seen the need to incorporate Liberians into the process.”
“It is also good to know that Liberians are very active and engaged in the process because, with all of the facilities that we visited today including United Commodities Incorporated (UCI), SWAT, among others, we have seen that they have invested in hiring Liberians, where we have from 350 to 500 Liberians being employed at these various entities.”
At Fouani Brothers, the Operation Manager, James Dixon told Minister Diggs and her team that 2.1 million bags of rice are currently in the warehouse, while the UCI Managing Director, Wahab Dhaini said that currently, his firm has 6,000 metric tons of rice in storage, 4,000 metric tons at the port and expected to be offloaded, and at the same time 19,000 metric tons of rice expected to arrive by early December 2020.
Commenting on the issue of the increase in the value of the Liberian currency and the increase in the price of commodities, Minister Diggs said it was important that the value increase but called on Liberians to exercise patience as prices will drop gradually.
She also said upon her ascendancy as Minster, she held meeting with major importers about the situation and was working with the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to address the situation.
“The good thing is that the Liberian dollar value is appreciating and that is a good thing that we must first recognize, but it is important to note that any time the rate fluctuates there is always room to adjust in prices. Therefore, the conversation with our business people is that there is a room to either increase or decrease the price a bit,” she said.
She also mentioned that there is a shortage of money on the market, and there was a need for Liberians to embrace e-money and mobile money platforms.
The Minister was accompanied by Commerce Inspector-general, Josephine Davis. Together, they held meetings with commerce inspectors assigned at the port.
During the meeting, she assured Madam Davis and the team at the port of her unflinching support to enable them to perform their duties. Earlier, the staff led by the Port Coordinator, Benedict Wreh pointed out the lack of logistics and stationery as some of the challenges they encounter in the discharge of their duties.