Liberia: A Looming Rice Problem in Liberia

MORE THAN FORTY TWO YEARS after the April 14, 1979 rice riots brought the William R. Tolbert government to its knees, rice Importers are launching an appeal to the current government headed by President George Manneh Weah to permit an increment on the price of rice due to rising cost of importation.

THE RICE IMPORTERS ASSOCIATION OF LIBERIA say the increase in price of rice is necessary due to a worldwide increment in freight and the rapidly rising increase in fees for services at the National Port Authority (NPA).

THE IMPORTERS FEAR that if the fees are not increased there is a likelihood that there may be a shortage of rice on the market.

THE CALL FOR INCREASE comes just three years into the George Weah-led government's reign. In February 2018 meeting with importers, President Weah secured an agreement with importers for the price of rice to be reduced between US$2-4.

PRIOR TO THE REDUCTION, the price of 25kg bag of rice was US$16.00. Since February 2018, rice price has been US$13.00.

DURING THAT MEETING, President Weah said: "If government-imposed tax is an issue, you can rest assured that my government is more than ready to grant reasonable adjustments in the tax regime to

make the reduction of rice price possible."

AT THE END of the negotiations, officials of the Association of Liberian Rice Importers consented to effect a reduction of the price. The Association of Rice Importers headed by their Chairman, John Bestman, agreed to reduce the price of the 25Kg bag of rice by US $2.00 while the price of 50kg bag of rice will be reduced by US $4.00.

THE ONGOING ISSUE regarding the price of rice is reminiscent of the events leading to the April 14, 1979 rice riots.

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