Commerce Warns Against price Hiking
By: Martin C. Benson
Posted May 19, 2004
The Ministry of Commerce is earnestly warning stakeholders within the commerce of Liberia to desist from arbitrarily increasing prices of basic commodities and product or risk facing the full weight of the law.
Last Wednesday, Commerce Minister Samuel Wlue at a news conference said, considering the sensitivity from where Liberians have come from and the Liberian populace’s lack of ability to have disposable incomes to do those things they would want to do, prices of petroleum products, rice and cement are not to be increased because now, they have all become political commodities.
Minister Wlue said, any decision surrounding those three key commodities must firstly be keen and sensitive about the well-being of the people.
He warned that anyone found unscrupulously engaging in increasing the prices of those commodities without due regards to constitutional authorities will be dealt with in accordance with the due process of the law.
Minister Wlue told reporters that already the Ministry of Commerce in collaboration with the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) and other stakeholders, prices of several local commodities on the market have been reduced adding “if you go to the Supermarket, you will see that prices have been reduced tremendously.”
“Building materials prices have also been reduced tremendously. We are working on these things in sector, and as we go along we will continue to do so,” Minister Wlue added.
The Commerce Ministry boss, however, highlighted that one of the serious problem the Ministry is faced with is the issue of security saying, “we got a lot of things that are being smuggled in and out of the Liberian market. They come in at night by way of the Red Light, Bo Water Side, much of it being sub standard goods.”
He said some of those sub-standard good are labeled to be sold in Guinea or other countries like Sierra Leone, but surface in Liberia and sold at prices that at times bother the prices of genuine goods on the market.
Minister Wlue responding to a question on what could be causing the hike in the prices on the market, he said the handling of containers at the Freeport of Monrovia where tariffs are unnecessarily high among other things, was posing weight to the increase in the prices on the market because those who pay huge tariffs in turn increase the prices of the goods.
However, he said the NTGL Chairman C. Gyude Bryant is doing everything possible to address the issue at the port.