As UP Government “Strangulates” Rice Importers: Commerce Minister Blunders (P-3)

82

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Amin Modad, in his quest to apply reverse psychology on the consumers, requested that the rice importers show good faith to the UP government by reducing the cost of rice on the Liberian market from US$17 (seventeen dollars) to US$16.75 (sixteen dollars and seventy-five cents). The $0.25 (twenty-five cents) reduction was contingent on the fact that in June Minister Modad would increase the cost of 5% broken parboiled rice by US$1.75 (one dollar seventy-five cents).

    In Minister Modad’s desperation and haste, he totally disregarded the authority of President Joseph N. Boakai, failed to educate the consuming population, and prematurely announced that the new price of 5% broken parboiled rice will be sold at US$18.50 (eighteen dollars fifty cents). Unfortunately, his forecast was immediately rejected by the President, leaving him to lobby with other cabinet ministers to plead on his behalf to retain his job.

   Words in the corridors of power suggest that the President of Liberia was so angry about the sudden and unilateral increase in the cost of rice that he wanted the Commerce Minister immediately dismissed. Fortunately for the Commerce Minister, he got respected parties involved that quieted the anger of the President.

   The poor judgment on the part of Minister Modad and the total disregard and disrespect to the Presidency accumulated to the poor behavior shown by the President when he stormed out of the meeting of the rice importers.

   Now that the “chicken has come home to roast”, the Unity Party (UP) government is faced with bigger political problems, owing to the rice importers’ secret plot not to input or request new import permit declarations (IPDs) when the current supply of rice on the market is depleted.

    Realizing his blunder and after being disgracefully rebuked by the President, Minister Modad arranged a hurriedly unorganized meeting among service providers of the Freeport of Monrovia, appealing that the service providers drop five and ten cents of their charges to enable the rice importers to make a profit. Again, this meeting was a “slap in the face”, as service providers rejected the Commerce Minister’s appeals. According to a service provider spoken to by the Hot Pepper, the Commerce Minister is missing the big picture of the imposed 20% duty on 5% broken parboiled rice by the Indian government. The service provider said that the Unity Party government has only two options: they either increase the price of rice on the market or subsidize it.

   According to the Hot Pepper’s on-going investigation, for the rice importers to break even, the cost of rice will have to be sold at US$17.50 (seventeen dollars fifty cents), and if the rice importers are to make a profit rice will have to be sold to the retailers at a minimum cost of US$18.50 (eighteen dollars fifty cents), while retailers sell to the consuming public at US$19.25 (nineteen dollars twenty-five cents).

   If the Unity Party (UP) government decides to subsidize rice and stabilize its cost on the market, the government will first have to increase the cost of rice to the breaking even point of US$17.50 (seventeen dollars fifty cents) before it computes a realistic profit for rice importers to be subsidized.

   According to the Hot Pepper’s research, Liberians consumed 350,000 (three hundred and fifty thousand) tons of rice yearly. If one multiplies 350,000 tons by 40 bags of rice, it sums up to 14,000,000 (fourteen million) bags of rice consumed by the Liberian public a year. Investigation continues.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.