Weah Weightlifts To Keep Rice Price Down -Surrenders GoL To $12m Losses In Subsidy

Most pundits agree that the advent of the George Manneh Weah administration in 2018 coincided with the exit of most or nearly all organizations and institutions whose presence and activities in the post-war nation had kept the economic wheels of Government lubricated. Hanging on paltry state-generated revenues, untold challenges continue to choke the government, leaving it to adopt extremely prudent measures to cope with the dire situation that is progressively exacerbated by unfavorable international market forces. Recently, the price for a bag of 25 kg bag added to the headache which directly negatively impacts the masses of the people. But the President of the Republic, knowing the history and importance of the commodity, dubbed political commodity, would not allow this explode to the joy of his opponents. As The Analyst reports, President Weah has caused his cash-starved Government stomach the loss of whopping US$12m to keep the price of rice down.

In the wake of ominous signs hovering over Liberia’s “politic commodity”—stable food rice—the Government of President George Manneh Weah has offered to keep the price stable by surrendering $12m of state fund.

The Government’s offer is intended to address some of the major challenges posed to the availability of rice, the nation’s staple food on the market which lately has come to the public space controversy over its availability and price.

The Weah administration has therefore committed itself to defraying an amount of $12 million annually which represents the loses major importers say they incur in order to have the products readily available at $13 per 25 kg bag.

This decision is the government’s reaction to perennial challenges associated with the purchase and distribution of the commodities outlined by the importers of rice which were presented to the Government in the wake of the reported shortage and the rise in the price of rice.

Last week, amid the misunderstanding as to what was obtaining in the rice market, President George Manneh Weah made an unannounced tour to rice warehouse facilities belong to the five major rice importers in the country.

The five major rice importers are SWAT, United Commodities Inc. (UCI), K&K Trading Corporation, Fouta Trading Corporation and Fouani Brothers Corporation.

The Consultant and lead Spokesman of the importers, Cllr. James Gibson, while addressing newsmen over the weekend noted that the only way the current rice issue can be stabilized is when the government takes concrete steps to address the situation.

He stressed that the government has not been able to honor its side of the bargain it reached with the importers in 2018 in handling the rice issue.

He said in 2018, President George Manneh Weah convened a meeting with the importers where he appealed to them for the reduction in the price of rice from the $16 per 25kg bag it was sold at the time to $13 for the same quantity—a request accepted by the importers and has since been implemented up to the time when the recent crisis came up.

Cllr. Gibson said the importers accepted the President’s appeal after he had told them that his government had just been inducted into office and was adopting a price regime to stabilize the price of rice on the market with respect to electoral promises to the citizens at the time.

He said long before the current rice crisis could occur, the importers had written to the government through the Ministry of Commerce to request for an appreciable increase in the price of rice as a way for the importers to break-even and stabilize the present situation on the market.

“Up to this date, we have gotten no response from the Ministry of Commerce,” Cllr. Gibson said last week.

Speaking further, Gibson listed some of the problems being encountered by the importers. These include but not limited to the issue of “Free on Board” or FOB which, according to him, has drastically increased from 9% to 10%, making it much more difficult for sellers and buyers.

He also spoke about the APM Terminal factor where taxes are being increased between 9 to 10% every year. Mr. Gibson also spoke of the constant smuggling of rice out of the country into neighboring countries because rice is being sold at a higher cost there than in Liberia.

“The government must put in place a system to deal with those factors that are contributing to the problem instead of pointing fingers,” Cllr. Gibson told the media.


The importers, while craving the government’s intervention, said that if the price of rice were maintained at US$13 amidst the increased taxes at the port, they would accumulate a US$12 million loss, which could throw many of them out of business.

They argued that the government needs to put into place a system that will create a win-win situation for the government, importers and consumers.

According to pundits, the US$12m gesture from the government, if implemented, will go a long way in cushioning the effects from the harsh economic conditions affecting the country amid the prevailing challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has not been a timeline when the lifeline to the importers will take effect, but there is a high optimism that the government will actualize it soon given the critical place of rice in the lives of Liberians which also transcend to politics.

It can be recalled that on Friday, April 6, 2022, President Weah embarked upon an unannounced tour of warehouses belonging to the major importers.

During the tours, at which the local media accompanied the President, it was discovered that there was enough rice in the facilities that could last for the next 2 months.

The President told importers in their faces during the tour that he was disappointed some of them were politicizing the rice issue and vowed to make sure that the commodity remains available and affordable on the market.

Comments are closed.