Amid growing concerns over sudden increment in the price of long-grain parboiled rice with the impression that the commodity is scarce on the market, the government through the Ministry of Commerce has said that there is no rice shortage, and business owners are only increasing their price based on speculations.
Commerce Minister Mawine G. Diggs disclose that importers are still selling the 25KG bag of parboiled long rice for $US13.00 and that wholesalers are to sell for $US13.50 to retailers.
However, at RedLight yesterday afternoon, it was realized that the commodity is still scarce and prices are varying from one seller to the other. Some business owners are selling the rice for $L2,600, $L2,850 while others are selling for $L3,950, the wholesalers are blaming it on the fact that they are now paying for separate transportation, uploading, and off-loading fees.
When sold for US$13.50, the Liberian dollar equivalent will be L$2,295, and when it is L$3,950, then, it means it is charged for US$23.00. According to Ministry of Commerce officials, importers and rice dealers agreed that they [wholesalers] will pay $US25 on each bag as transportation and unloading fees. The importers are insisting that they are now renting trucks and paying people to upload and offload, and therefore it is difficult for them to sell the rice for 13.50
"I can’t buy it for $US13.00, transport it myself, pay people to upload and offload and I sell it for $US13.50, no, no, it’s not possible. No reason I sell rice,” says Joseph Zinneh, a dealer in Red Light. He added that they have been alerted by the suppliers to pick up their rice on Friday or Saturday. "I pay for 250 bags of rice and they will call me for it either on Friday or Saturday. So, I am looking for a truck to rent and some boys to offload my goods." He says.
Zinneh said it is true that rice is sold for $13.00 but because of the transportation and other fees, the price of rice will increase. “On Friday or Saturday rice will be in the market but the price will increase to $L2,600, $L2,800, or $L3,000 depending on expenses made on transportations, offloading, and uploading.” The dealer added.
He said importers are refusing to transport goods to their stores and shops, so any extra money spent will be added to the price. According to him, they have been alerted that on Friday or Saturday, importers will start selling huge quantities to them for $US13.00. “Friday or Saturday rice will be in the market, but the price will increase to $L2,600, $L2,800, or $L3,000 depending on expenses made on transportations, offloading, and uploading.”
He said importers are refusing to transport their goods, so any extra money spent will be added to the price. “The price will increase because there will be no regulations. The government is only aware of the buying price from the importers but not other expenditures the wholesaler makes.” Julius Weah, a buyer who had gone to purchase his bag of broken rice, called on the government to regulate the prices, adding that there are differences on the market. “People are using the situation to exploit the masses.” He says.