The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Rice Shortage Imminent?

By Alex Yomah
Monrovia, Liberia Feb. 20, 2020 –There are lingering reports of an imminent shortage of rice and other essential but imported commodities in Liberia, amidst the government’s efforts to avert the ongoing gasoline shortage that is severely injuring the economy.
But Liberia’s Information Minister, Len Eugene Nagbe, through the State-owned broadcaster has refuted this early warning information that rice, the stable food of Liberians, may enter into crisis soon as a result of the government’s instability in managing the country’s economy.
Hinted by multiple sources in government, as well as others from the private sector, including the diaspora, reports gathered that due to the pending rice scarcity, Liberians living in the United States and other parts of the world who are bread winners of families back home have increased financial aids to relatives to purchase rice as well as other essential food commodities.
According to another sources, the reported shortage may even be as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic that is posing serious health threats to the entire world and spreading as a wild fire because Liberia relies heavily on importation of its stable food.
“Most of our commodities consumed in Liberia including rice are imported from China, America and sometimes Taiwan and because citizens are now restraining themselves in their respective countries, importation of goods as it is with individual travels and these measures will have adverse impacts on those at receiving ends,” a government source explained.
However, rejecting Minister Nagbe described the report as false and misleading which according to him is a rumor being spewed by haters of government and pointed out that those in the opposition are doomed messengers because the report of a pending rice shortage is only intended undercut President George Weah’s Government.
Minister Nagbe called on Liberians not to pay heed to such rumors because the issue of gasoline shortage is now a history for the country, adding, “Gasoline is in town.”
Apparently confirming the looming shortage of rice, the plenary session of the House of Representatives, has instituted a Special Committee to probe Commerce Minister, Wilson Tarpeh and leadership of the Rice Importers Association Liberia to explain the reported upsurge in the rice price which is also a contributing factor in the struggling Liberian economy.
Plenary’s decision to summon the Minister Tarpeh and others was triggered by District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah’s communication addressed to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers on Tuesday where he request plenary to ask those summoned why there is a $0.5 increment on the rice price that is non-taxable.
Rep. Kolubah stated that President Weah recently issued an Executive Order # 98 mandating that all tariffs on the importation of rice be dropped with an objective of avoiding a hike in the price of this stable but very essential commodity rice.

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