-Local Rights Group Urges Government
The National Progressive Movement of Liberia (NPM), a civil society and nongovernmental organization says it attention has been drawn to the growing numbers of business people expressing interest in the importation of rice, who are requesting government’s authorization and permission.
Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Officials of NPM in a release said, while they cherish competition for the importation of basic commodities on the Liberian market, it is important to note that the government must take due care in granting permission.
The group is calling on the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Commerce to properly assess the financial potential of those desiring to import rice in the country.
“Knowing that rice is a political commodity and do have a national security implication, it would be risky for the government to gamble by just granting anybody the right to import rice,” NPM said in a release over the weekend in Monrovia.
According to NPM, the Ministry of Commerce needs to ensure that business people who are given import permit for rice have the financial capability and are able to maintain a constant supply of rice on the market.
The NPM said the move of persons posing to engage in the rice importation might cause the current importers to drop the quantity of rice been imported.
The group said if the current importers drop in their importation and those the government wanting to import rice failed, it will worsen the current economic condition of the country.
“We would like to underscore that given that this government is new and in its formative stage coupled with current economic situation, NPM is calling on the government to rethink its decision and cease granting permission to people for the importation of rice into Liberia,” NPM added.
The organization was quick to point out that the caution is in no way trying to stop business people from venturing into the importation of rice, but if care is not taken, the situation might result to the late 70s.
NPM wants the government to cancel all permissions that may have been granted to individuals for the importation of rice on the Liberian market.
“The current importers over the past twelve years have proven that they can regularly supply the Liberian market and are doing everything to support the President’s pro-poor agenda. Opening a flood gate for people to import rice without properly evaluating their financial standing will have serious impact on the government revenue generation,” NPM further indicated.
Meanwhile, NPM says if President George Weah doesn’t timely address the situation, it foresees shortage of rice on the market thus leaving those potential business people to divert their course of business to different sector.