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Thursday, June 20, 2024

HOR SUMMONS COMMERCE AND AGRICULTURE MINISTERS OVER RICE PRICE HIKE

Date:

LIBERIA – The House of Representatives has summoned the Ministers of Commerce and Agriculture to appear on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, to provide explanations for the recent increase in rice prices.

This decision follows separate communications from Grand Bassa County District 3 Representative Matthew Joe and Montserrado County District 9 Representative Frank Saah Foko Jr., who expressed grave concerns over the price hike. On Monday, May 20, 2024, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced that the government and rice importers agreed to raise the price of a bag of rice from $16.50 to $18.50 USD.

In their communications, the lawmakers highlighted the potential negative impacts on citizens, particularly those in rural areas. They warned that the increase could drive up prices of other essential commodities and exacerbate the difficulties faced by those in remote towns and villages due to poor road conditions.

Representative Foko emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue to prevent instability, drawing parallels to the April 14, 1979 riot, which was triggered by a proposed rice price increase and had devastating consequences.

“Honorable colleagues, given these harsh realities, I urge you to support the invitation of the Minister of Commerce and Industry to explain the rationale behind this insensitive increase and explore how the Legislature can mitigate the impact on our nation’s staple food,” Foko stated.

In response, the House Plenary has instructed Clerk Mildred Sayon to formally invite Commerce Minister Amin Modad and Agriculture Minister Dr. J. Alexander Nuetah to discuss the matter.

The House Press and Public Affairs office noted that the decision to summon the ministers reflects the legislative body’s commitment to holding the executive accountable for policies affecting the livelihood of Liberians. The House aims to ensure transparency and seek viable solutions to mitigate the economic burden on the populace.

The recent price hike has sparked widespread concern among citizens, many of whom already struggle with high living costs. Lawmakers fear that without immediate intervention, the situation could deteriorate, leading to increased poverty and social unrest.

Representatives Joe and Foko have called for a comprehensive review of the factors leading to the price increase, including the role of importers and the effectiveness of current regulatory measures. They stressed the importance of finding a balance between market dynamics and the welfare of the people.

The upcoming session is expected to be highly scrutinized, with civil society groups and the general public eagerly awaiting the ministers’ explanations. The House has urged all relevant stakeholders to engage constructively and work towards a resolution that prioritizes the needs of ordinary Liberians.

As the date approaches, the legislative and executive branches are under pressure to demonstrate their responsiveness to the concerns of the people. The House’s proactive stance in summoning the ministers signals a critical step towards addressing the economic challenges faced by the country.

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