LIBERIA – Drama occurred yesterday at a Liberian Senate hearing on the shortage of Liberia’s staple food-rice when the head of the agency of government responsible for trade and commerce blatantly disrespected the President of the country George Weah and ditched him in the rice crisis, in an apparent defense of her own image.
The Minister of Commerce of Liberia who appeared at a Senate Hearing yesterday remorselessly threw the Liberia President under the bus by exonerating her office from a statement made by President George Weah that there was a surplus of rice on the local market at a time the commodity was actually scared.
It can be recalled that upon his return from the United Nations General Assembly in New York recently, President Weah categorically assured the Liberian people that sufficient rice was in the country, when in fact the product could not be found.
At yesterday’s hearing, the Senators tried to find out what was responsible for the shortage and who advised the President that there was sufficient rice on the market when actually the commodity was in short supply.
The Minister of Commerce Mawine Diggs, who is considered by many Liberians as President Weah’s closest female friend in his cabinet, embarrassingly dumped the Liberian leader and the Ministry of Finance when attempting to defend herself against the scarcity of rice in the country.
When Senator Edwin Snowe of Bomi County quizzed Minister Diggs on who advised the president to inform the public that there was enough rice in the country at the time the commodity could not be found, Min. Diggs simply replied: “Please address your question to the President instead of me.”
And when she was further asked how could the Liberian President make such a comment without consultation with the ministry of commerce, Diggs again replied: “I said go and ask the President. I didn’t advise him, so I wouldn’t know.”
Even though Diggs had denied persistent media reports that the government was owing rice importers a subsidy, the minister told the senators that the rice shortage was caused by a delay by the Liberian Government to pay the rice importers.
She deliberately chose not to name Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, whom it is also believed played a major role in causing the recent rice crisis in the country.
Diggs informed the senators that the Liberian leader had met with rice importers who were demanding an increment in the price of the commodity in 2021. She said the president agreed to a subsidy paid to the importers to allow a continued and unhindered supply of rice to Liberia, but said the delay to pay the importers by the government caused the crisis.