Liberia: Hike in Price of Rice Claims Lawmakers' Attention

The Plenary of the Liberian Senate has cited the Minister of Commerce and Industry Amin Modad to state reasons behind the hike in the price of rice, despite his latest pronouncement reducing the price of the commodity on the local market.

Rice is Liberia's staple food.

It can be recalled that on Friday, February 16, Minister Modad announced a reduction in the price of rice from $17.00 to $16.75 per 25kg bag. The pronouncement brought a great relief to consumers in the post-conflict nation.

However, the Senate took the decision to cite Minister Modad to appear before its Committee on Commerce to state reasons why his latest pronouncement has not taken effect during regular sitting on Tuesday, February 20.

The lawmakers' action stemmed from a concern raised by Gbarpolu County Senator Gbotoe Kanneh.

Speaking during the sitting, Senator Kanneh observed that the pronouncement of the reduction in the price of rice has not been effectuated, especially in Gbarpolu.

"The Minister of Commerce announced a decrease in the price of rice. But to my understanding, the price on the market has gone higher than ever before. Yesterday, the price of rice was sold for L$4000."

She, however, failed to state the specific place a bag of 25kg rice was sold for L$4000.

She stressed that as part of executing their oversight responsibility, lawmakers must ensure that Minister Modad is invited to give reasons for the current situation.

Also speaking, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon underscored the need for Minister Modad to be cited by members of that August Body, instead of being invited.

He observed that though the decision to reduce the price of rice is laudable, the Minister of Commerce should appear to provide details on the move.

"We should not invite the Commerce Minister but we should cite him. The pronouncement made by this government which in our views is laudable is the step taken towards our staple food [rice] to reduce the price by Twenty-five cents and if we don't act now, the public will come to the senators and ask what y'all know about the price of rice so let's cite him, let's know what informed his decision and how long it will stay."

A motion for Minister Modad to be cited was filed by Maryland County Senator Gbleh-bo Brown. He is expected to appear before the committee this week, with a report expected to be forwarded to the Senate Plenary by next week.

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