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Monopoly Imminent Over Frozen Foods …As Businesses Struggle For IPDs

The Ministry of Commerce is said to be denying local and foreign-owned businesses Import, Permit Declarations (IPD) to import frozen foods in the country.
Frozen foods are listed as chicken feet, pig feet, chicken, turkey, turkey wings, chicken wings, sausage, which are part of the everyday meal for a typical Liberian family and the acts of fronting for a single business is said to be creating more demand on the market.
According to information gathered, said action is creating a serious monopoly on the market and might gradually strangulate the economy by depriving the government of its needed revenues.
Sources are pointing accusing fingers at Commerce, Minister Mawine G. Diggs, whom according to them is deliberate and intended to give an opportunity to a single business that is desperate to clear its goods off the market due to the volume of frozen foods in its possession which are nearing expiration.
According to the source, the action will not only create undue monopoly in the business, it will also risk the health of Liberians as well as other residents and it is not only strangulating other businesses and risking the jobs of their employees.
“We have received sufficient information among our partners and confirmed with our sources within the ministry of commerce that Minister Diggs is deliberately refusing to grant us the IPD because a particular company has tons of goods that they are on the verge of expiring. So, in order to clear it off the market, he needs monopoly,” the entrepreneurs explained.
“The minister has in her office several applications for IPDs for the importation of frozen foods on her desk yet she has not signed a single one of them. She knows exactly what she is doing. Strangulating us to benefit a single individual and this is what discourages investors from coming to Liberia. They do it to us all the time,” an aggrieved entrepreneur expressed.
But since Minister Diggs was contacted while on the President’s county tour, she has neither acknowledged nor respond to follow-ups via WhatsApp messages even though the app indicated that she read the message.
The issue of selectively giving out IPDs has been an age-old problem at the Ministry of Commerce as it seems to be the corridor for exploiting businesses and creating unwarranted monopoly to the advantage of a few businesses while the vast majority struggle to stay afloat.
Apparently, this kind of action creates unfair market conditions and, in many cases, and leaves the market without competition leading to unfair market price, low-quality products and limited choices for consumers.
However, a Commerce Ministry source confirmed the complaint of the Liberian and foreign-owned businesses and added that Minister Diggs has been approached to grant the permits, but to no avail.
“We have been contacted by several businesses that they are not getting IPDs to import their frozen foods and that is true. We have made several attempts to see how best we can get the Ministry to see the need to grant these IPDs especially for this Easter who she has been resolved not to grant this IPDs,” the source noted.
The staff said they are not happy over her alleged deliberate action to businesses but because she is the Minister and that there is absolutely nothing they can do about and further acknowledged that placing restrictions for IPDs is counter-productive to commerce in Liberia which has been a major issue confronting the Liberian market.
“Creating an unfair market condition is completely against the President’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development,” the minister added.
Meanwhile, President Weah over the weekend suspended for time indefinite and without pay the Assistant Minister for Commerce and Trade at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry with immediate effect.
Mr. Peter D. Somah was suspended early Friday, April 2, 2021, for administrative reasons, the Executive Mansion stated on its website and that President Weah has asked Mr. Somah to report to the office of the President’s Legal Advisor.
While it remains unclear what the administrative reasons are, sources within the Commerce Ministry alleged that Mr. Somah’s complain has reached the President that he tried helping some businesses process their IPDs in the absence of the Minister; though it falls within the mandate of his office.

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