The Inquirer (Monrovia)

15 August 2014

Liberia: Ellen Warns Against Price Hike

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has warned businesses operating in the country against price hike stressing that to do so is a criminal act.

The Liberian leader made the statement on Wednesday when she met with members of the Business community operating in the country to advise them that as the country fights the Ebola virus nothing must be done to increase the hardship of the people.

Making the disclosure yesterday at the regular Ministry of Information Press briefing in Monrovia, Information Minister, Lewis G. Brown, said the President stressed that the hiking of prices for goods and services in the country is unacceptable.

Minister Brown said be it goods, services rendered or transportation fare, nobody is to hike prices as the current situation in the country already has an economic implication.

Minister Brown said during the meeting with the Business Community which included the Liberia Business Association (LIBA) the President made it known that the hiking of prices at this time is a crime against the Liberian people and anyone caught will be arrested and prosecuted.

Minister Brown said at the meeting, the business community assured the President that there will be no price hiking.

However, as the situation is today, the prices of goods and services are sky-rocketing, some being increased at rate of hundred percent while at times transportation fares are increased by over one hundred and fifty percent at the detriment of the ordinary citizens who have been asked to stay home during the Ebola epidemic which has claimed over a thousand lives in Liberia Sierra Leone and Guinea.

At yesterday's Press briefing Minister Brown also sounded a warning to owners and operators of video clubs and entertainment centers not to take into their business places a huge crowd of people due to the spread of the Ebola virus.

Minister Brown said each of these institutions or centers must have a bucket where customers can wash their hands before entering and before leaving. He disclosed that government will deploy people to ensure compliance at every video club and entertainment center.

The Information Minister also said operators of video clubs and entertainment centers must ensure that there is ventilation and if these regulations are not adhered to the Government of Liberia will be forced to close down such video clubs and entertainment centers.

Minister Brown said this warning is being given at a time that the European soccer leagues are slated to begin next week. "What we are saying is do not put twenty people on one bench in your video club because when you do not abide by this measure we will close you down and when you come to see me I will not see you".

In a related development, the head of the Ebola Response Task Force, Mr. Tolbert Nyeswah has disclosed that to further the fight against the deadly Ebola virus, government will put into place a community driven approach.

He said communities will be monitored and if the case of Ebola increases in a particular community people there will be quarantined and victims placed in a school house for treatment before being moved to a larger treatment center.

He disclosed that two doctors are in the country from Uganda to train health workers and are assigned at the JFK Hospital Ebola Center.

Mr. Nyeswah said new laboratory equipment has arrived in the country to enhance the fight against Ebola and noted that technical teams are being put in place to be spread to affected counties with the support of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) based in Atlanta, Georgia; the Medicine San-Frontier (MSF), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mr. Nyeswah said on Sunday the ELWA treatment center will be opened with 120 beds to be managed by MSF while the JFK center will be opened with 33 beds.

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