Monrovia — The Minister of Commerce, Mawine G. Diggs, is refusing to grant Import, Permit Declaration (IPDs) to several local and foreign businesses for the importation of frozen foods in a bid to afford a particular foreign business time without competition to sell their products which are on the verge of expiring.
Her action, FrontPageAfrica gathered, is not only strangulating these businesses and risking the jobs of Liberians in their employ but also by extension strangulating the country's economy by depriving the country of much-needed revenue.
"Go to the minister's office, you'll see several applications for IPDs for frozen foods on her desk. She is refusing to sign them. Why? Does she have any idea what she is doing to our business? Of course, she does. She knows exactly what she is doing. Strangulating us to benefit a single individual. This is what discourages investors from coming to Liberia. They do it to us all the time," one of the aggrieved Liberian entrepreneurs and a victim of the monopoly who asked for anonymity said to FrontPageAfrica.
Frozen foods like chicken feet, pig sheet, chicken, turkey, turkey wings, chicken wings, sausage, etc. These foods are part of Liberians every day food, therefore, making the demand for them on the market very high.
"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 - that means, he must be the only supplier and there will be a big rush to him and all his products will be cleared. That is the game they are playing at the Ministry of Commerce and the Minister, I am aware, has signed up to this," another businessman said.
Multiple attempts to get comments from Minister Diggs did not materialize. When she was first contacted on the matter last week, she said she could not comment as she was away with the President on his county tour. The Minister did not respond to follow-up messages after the tour even though WhatsApp messaging app indicated that she read the message.
The issue of restricting and selectively giving out IPDs has been an age-old problem at the Ministry of Commerce as it seems to be gap for exploiting businesses and create unwarranted monopoly to the advantage of a few businesses while the vast majority struggle to stay afloat.
This creates unfair market conditions and, in many cases, and leaves the market without competition leading to unfair market prices, low-quality products, and limited choices for consumers.
Sources at the Ministry of Commerce further informed FrontPageaAfrica that Minister Diggs who is not frequent at work has reportedly refused to collaborate with her principal deputies at the Ministry who are against her action.