“I Am Disappointed, People Politicizing Rice Issue”- Pres. Weah -Says Rice will be available all the time and affordable

President George Manneh Weah has said that he is disappointed in some citizens who are putting political spin on the rumored scarcity of rice on the market and the high cost of the commodity and called on them to desist from such act which he termed as “sabotage and Blackmail” which according to him have consequences and vowed that under his administration, rice will be available all the time and affordable to the citizens

President made the statement yesterday while doing physical inspection of warehouses containing consignment of rice owned by two leading importers of the nation’s staple food, the Fouani Brothers and the K and K Enterprise located within the facilities of the Port of Monrovia in response to the wave of insinuations going around that there was an acute shortage of rice that has hit the market and due to the scarcity, the price of the commodity has gone up on the market.

“I am flabbergasted, I know how some of them can behave. That is bad behavior. I am disappointed because the country that we all live in , we are striving for peace, we are trying to build our economy, to know that  few people are on air and making reckless statements to the citizens is ridiculous. I am disappointed and you guys need to stop .Why would you lie to the entire citizenry when the commodity is available but you put yourself together to say nothing is available. That is wrong. That is sabotage and there is a consequence for sabotaging your country”, Mr. Weah said.

President Weah who was visibly not happy with the way and manner the rumor of the scarcity of rice and its attendant astronomical rise in the price of the product said it was sad that some people will want to turn it to a form of campaign against the government and blamed the media for facilitating the bad publicity the rice issue had generated over the few days because they were not interested to saying the truth and being honest about what one says.

“We need to be honest .Giving information about people has to be accurate, you don’t need to dilute it, the truth is the truth, that is what journalism is all about. Some of us decided to be journalists but we did not go far, so we went into music. But what we did was to give what exact it was. This is your country, you know anything that happens to this country you will be held responsible,” He said

President Weah who told the people not to waste his previous time trying to distract him and his government from doing what is good for the country said that there is nothing wrong with people, out of clear heart criticize the wrongs in government but must also be fair to state where the government is proceeding the right way.

The President was accompanied  by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, Samuel D. Tweah Jr, Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the Minister of Commerce, Madam Mawine Diggs, the Inspector General at the Ministry of Commerce and other government officials and said the government is exploring for more durable solutions to food security like rice production adding that he  made representation to serious investors when he visited the United Arab Emirates during the Dubai Export event.

While allaying fear that there will be scarcity in the market in the not too near future, President Weah said it is not going to happen so soon as he and his government have been putting mechanism into motion to make sure that rice remains on the market and will be available to the ordinary citizen in the country. He said he has had discussion with the importers of rice in the country upon his ascension in 2018 to provide the enabling environment where rice will always be in the market at the price Liberians can afford.

“I am not in this whole thing of rice being scarce or not being available on the market and that is why I have always said that if you are the Commerce Minister and you cannot stabilize the prices of commodities like rice on the market, then you cannot be my Commerce Minister”, Mr. Weah said.

For some time now, the rumored shortage of rice on the market and the increase of the price associated with it have been rife. At a particular point in time, both the Ministries of Commerce and Information and Culture Affairs and Tourism issued joint press statements to debunk the stories but consumers who have been experiencing difficulties seeing the products in the market have been raising series of concerns alleging that the dealers must have decided to hoard the rice to provoke increase in the price of the precious commodity.

Even while the President was doing his physical inspection of the facilities of importers, a good number of women, claiming to be dealers in the commodity said that they have not been able to get their supplies from the dealers who said there were no consignments around and they should wait for the arrival of new products from Asia. Some of the traders, who are predominantly women, said they made some deposits for bags of rice running into hundreds of bags but yet to be attended to.

The outcome of the President’s tour made many believe that there is indeed a lot of rice in Liberia that can at least serve the country for the next 2 months. Photos emerging from the President’s tour on the various media outlets showed very large warehouses stocked with 25 KG bags all over the National Port Authority facilities.

The Minister of Commerce, Madam Mawine Diggs told newsmen during the inspection that it was not out of order that the rumor was allowed to give such huge credence when every available record is there to prove that there is enough rice in the market. She blamed it on some unscrupulous persons intending to exploit the Liberian people but her Ministry will make sure that such persons do not succeed.

She said the Ministry is putting in place a mechanism to make sure that the commodity remains readily available in the market and reachable within the means of the citizens.

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