Petroleum Importers Want Price Hiked -Say Govt Price Ceiling Bad for Business…but

As if the harsh economic situation facing the country is not weighing heavily enough on ordinary Liberians, the price of petroleum products keeps soaring, leading to the skyrocketing of transportation fares around the country and the shortage of petroleum products in the country.

Last May, the Ministry of Commerce, cognizant of the rising cost of petroleum products on the world market due to the Russia-Ukraine war, increased gasoline by US1.16 and diesel fuel by US$1.47, a jump from LD690 to LD875 for gas, and LD800 to LD930 for diesel fuel. But the Petroleum Importers Association says the last May increment is still too low because their cost of importing petroleum products has increased by about $1.00 on both diesel and gasoline. Despite the concern from the importers, a top ranking official of the Weah government says the petroleum importers are hoarding petroleum products to pressure the government to increase prices.

Making the pronouncement over the weekend, the Petroleum Importers Association of Liberia in a press release said it is drawing the attention of the government and people of Liberia to the increase in world market prices and premiums on petroleum products due to the Russian-Ukraine crisis.

“This has increased our cost by about $1.00 on both Diesel and Gasoline as petroleum products are priced daily based on world market price movements. This is beyond the control of any government and the importers.

“The current prices set by the government therefore puts us in losses which are not sustainable and could lead to bankruptcy of our companies. In addition, amidst the current scarcity of petroleum products on the world market, there is a limited amount of stocks in the country and we need to procure stocks in time to have products readily available on the Liberian market. We therefore call on the government to address this situation in the soonest possible time,” the petroleum importers lamented.

Members of the Petroleum Importers Association of Liberia are Srimex Gas and Oil, Aminata & Sons, Conex, NP Liberia, Petro Trade, West Oil, Nexium, Kailondo Petroleum and LPRC.

It can be recalled that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in a press release issued over the weekend said earlier this year the Ministry informed the general public that in the midst of disruptions to the global supply chain posed by COVID 19 and now the subsequent Russia-Ukraine War, which greatly affects cost of freight and sourcing of commodities from international suppliers, the Government of Liberia remains committed to ensuring essential commodities remain available and affordable on the local market.

“Subsequently, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry wishes to inform the general public that it has worked with importers of petroleum products to ensure that there is sufficient stock in the country to serve the market for the next couple of months. The Government of Liberia appreciates those fully executing their supply mandate as Licensed Importers of Petroleum”, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in its press release.

Govt. official raise eyebrows

Meanwhile, a very senior Government official has confided in this paper that the Government of Liberia has not decided to increase the price of petroleum products.

“Listen, the Government has decided not to increase the price. The petroleum people want an increase. They are hoarding. That is an issue we are solving. We are not just sitting.

“Hoarding is because of the government’s refusal to increase petroleum products. There is no shortage of gasoline here. We know gas is here. Government issued a release to that effect. They are pressuring to get their desired outcome,” the official averred.

Siafa Dassin runs a taxi business shuttling between Duala and Broad Street, but he doesn’t know who to believe when he was asked yesterday about the situation. “I just bought gas for my taxi and I paid LD1, 200 for a gallon. That is not even the frustrating part. I had to stay in line for hours before getting my pitiful two gallons. So you expect me to charge passenger LD150 from Duala to Broad Street?”

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