Selective IPD Issuance Hikes Prices of Food Items On Liberian Market

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One of the major pillars of the pro-poor agenda is to provide food items at an affordable price on the Liberian market; unfortunately, this pillar is being nibbled by the selective issuance of Import Permit Declaration (IPD) to importers of food items in the country.

   One needs an IPD in order to import goods into country as well as discharge them from the Freeport of Monrovia—the gateway to Liberia’s Economy.

    Information gathered from many Liberian and foreign frozen food businesses indicates several complaints about the refusal of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to grant them IPDs to import onion, chicken egg, frozen chicken, frozen meat and frozen fish, while it has been observed that two cargo loads of vessels that recently arrived in Monrovia, belonging to an influential entity, has been given an IPD.

   As result of the selective issuance of IPD, frozen foods have doubled prices on the Liberian market because retail sellers are obliged to buy at the prices given by the only importer who obtained the IPD.

   “A delay tactic for signing IPDs is affecting other importers and causing serious demurrage, which causes the prices to increase, despite the increase of international freight of all commodities that the world faces due to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” a businessman at the Redlight market lamented.

    “The aim of the pro-poor administration is to make sure that the people of this country don’t find it difficult to afford their daily meal. We all know that the only way items can be less expensive on the market is to encourage competition among the importers. If you have only one person importing an item in the country, you are compelling everyone to buy at the price he or she (the importer) is imposing on the item, ” Michael Diah, a retailer at the Duala Market, asserted.

   Apart from frozen foods, other food items like onion and egg are also getting more expensive by the day due to the selective issuance of IPDs.

    “The chicken feet I used to buy for L$100 is now sold at L$150. The price of the onion and the egg has doubled,” Margaret Paye, a mother of 4, said. “How do they want us to feed our families when prices are getting unstable and are climbing the ladder every day?”

    “You can’t have only one person obtaining an IPD to import frozen food and other food items while strangulating other competent Liberian businessmen who are eager to import more of the commodity for the people, thus putting them in huge fees at the port. That is like saying you want only one importer in the country. If that is the case, how do you have competition on the market? Everyone knows that without competition on the market prices will always go up at the will of the only importer allowed to obtain the IPD,” an importer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

   Although authorities at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry have persistently rejected claims that they usually issue IPD on a selective basis, multiple testimonies from several affected business people, including some importers, prove the contrary. 

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