The Senate Chair on Post and Telecommunications has recommended to the Plenary for a public hearing, several top national business communities and associations in the wake of alarming escalation of prices on the local market.
Maryland County Senior Senator John Ballout in a communication to the Senate plenary raised concern that amidst the spread of the Ebola epidemic, unscrupulous business houses are profiteering by hiking prices of commodities already in their stores before the crisis.
“I strongly recommend a public hearing where we will invite the Minister of Commerce, the Liberian Chamber of Commerce, Liberia Business Association, Liberia Marketing Association, Lebanese Business Community, Indian Business Community, Fulah Business Association and other relevant stakeholders.”
Calling for the maintenance of a strong oversight on the impact of the Ebola crisis on the economy, Senator Ballout observed that since the outbreak, economic activities have slowed to a corresponding escalating prices and job loss especially in the private sector.
“Why I believe most of these concerns could be a natural response of the economy to the Ebola fear and the State of Emergency, it is also possible that other unscrupulous businesses are taking unfair advantages of the current state of emergency, profiteering and carrying on other abuses to the detriment of our people,” he noted.
“My enquiries have realized that prices of most commodities have drastically increased as confirmed by the numerous calls we all receive on a daily basis from our citizens across the country,” Senator Ballout continued.
Senator Ballout thinks the public hearings among other things, should address concerns such as what were the prices of commodities before and after the Ebola outbreak; why are prices of major commodities increasing out of control; businesses refusing the Liberian currency as a free market system, and what can be done to limit the profiteering and other unscrupulous business practices.
The objectives of the public hearings according to the Maryland lawmaker will ultimately increase the awareness for citizens and help to ensure that the prices are as low as possible in this period of crisis.
“Article 87a of the Constitution demands that the Legislature remains seated throughout the state of emergency. The objective of this constitutional provision is to ensure that the Legislature remains ever present in the rein of a strong oversight in the state of emergency, and in instituting corrective measures to reduce the negative impact of any kind of calamity on the lives of our people.
I therefore call on plenary to act speedily and decisively so as to avoid a further worsening of an already tense economic situation.” Due to the importance attached to the communication and concern raised, the plenary unanimously voted and sent it to the Senate committees on Commerce and Trade, and Banking & Currency and report within two weeks.