Price of Rice to Increase If…

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Some of the rice and assorted item donated in Mont. County.

As gasoline shortage outpaces the money crisis that confronted Liberians over the recent festive season, resulting into skyrocketing transportation fares, sources at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) have hinted this paper that there is a strong possibility of experiencing high price of rice shortly if President George Weah does not renew Executive Order 93 that suspends tariff on the importation of rice in the country.

Rice is considered a ‘political commodity’ in Liberia. As Liberia’s staple food, rice is imported every year for consumption due to poor agricultural activities despite Liberia’s fertile soil and favorable climatic conditions for Agriculture.

In Executive Order 93, which has elapsed a year and has since expired, President George Weah acknowledged that the government was committed to ensuring that prices of certain basic commodities on the Liberian market are affordable so that the citizens will not undergo undue suffering.

The Executive Order, issued last year, states: “Now, therefore, the Government of Liberia in its desire to continue to bring relief to the public, hereby issues Executive Order N. 93, suspending the import tariff on rice as classified under tariff Nos. 1006.30.00 (in packing of more than 5kg or in bulk); 1006.30.00 (in packing of at least 5kg); and 1006.40.00 (broken rice) under the Revenue Code of Liberia Act 2000 with immediate effect.”

According to LRA insiders, as the Executive Order has expired without renewal, there is a high possibility that the price of rice will increase because in the absence of the Executive Order, LRA has no option but to levy tariff on the importation of rice.

“It is the Executive Order that stops LRA from levying tariff on this sensitive commodity.  If there is no renewal and importers begin importing, it means there will be tariff levied which will consequently affect the price of rice on the market for the ordinary buyers,” an LRA source indicated.

Currently a 25-kg bag of rice is sold on the local market for L$2,600 and sellers are of the view that there may be possible increase in the existing price due to the exchange rate between the Liberian Dollar and the United States Dollar.  The rate currently stands at L$198 to US$1. As of yesterday January 27, the buying rate for the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) was L$193.5072 to $1.00 USD.

Liberia is a heavy importer of rice, and the commodity comes from India, Thailand and China.  Farming is done at a low scale in Liberia, such that what is produced has barely elevated from the subsistence level.

3 COMMENTS

  1. And it’s in the press that the IRA sees as the appropriate place to sound this alarm to government? The LRA should have informed or forewarned the appropriate authorities about the expected expiration of this Executive Order and its concomitant implication for the country way before it happened. It’s called coordination or being proactive.

    This lack of coordination between government entities when functionaries are not talking to each other, when “everybody for self, God for all” seems to be the operational mantra in government, must be one of the pitfalls of Liberian governments. We saw it in the past and it continues to happen to this day, of course, with the exception of our “Joint Security.” And the reason-chopping!

    Must everything have personal emoluments for people as the only incentive before they will do anything to benefit society at large and afterwards? Nationalism is the answer.

  2. Rice is a Liberian staple. A man from Central Liberia will eat cassava, yams or breadfruit all day. But if rice is not added to his diet, he’ll be unhappy. Because of his unhappiness, he may not even speak kindly to his wife. But yet as much as rice is heavily consumed, the price of rice goes up and up. It doesn’t have to be like that at all. If bigger rice farms are made by Liberian farmers, more rice will be mass produced. If there’s an availability of more or surplus rice on the market, the price of rice will stabilize or dip dramatically. The reason the price of rice continues to rice is that most of the rice is imported. The rice importers, (who are foreign nationals) import more and more rice. As a consequence of that, Liberian rice farmers do not stand a chance to beat the competition.

    Sometimes, I wonder about why Liberia is the way it is. Since 1847 up to now, there are hardly any good roads in the country. The transportation industry is ungoverned. A car owner will load passengers up in his four or five-seater car like sardines without the interference of a government official. Not an insult! But I sometimes wonder, “what on earth is wrong with us”? Nothing’s going on fine.

    What’s really wrong with us? You’ve got lawmakers who earn huge sums of money every year, but the price of rice, the country’s main staple is shooting up high without the “do nothing” lawmakers saying something about it. Oh is it because the lawmakers have decent incomes? That could be. With a monthly income of $15-16,000 per month, a lawmaker can afford to pay 50 US bucks for a hundred-pound sack! So what’s about the poor people amongst us? Obviously they don’t care. They pretend to be. But in reality, they don’t give a hoot.

    What’s really, really wrong with us?

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