News / Africa

Liberian Opposition Urges Rice Price Cut

Liberty Party national chairman Akinsanya II says ordinary Liberians are feeling the pinch of higher commodities prices


James Butty

Liberia’s opposition Liberty Party has called on the government to reduce the cost of rice and other basic commodities to assure what it calls “food security.”

A party statement said the government can fund the reduction in basic commodity prices by “using various fiscal mechanisms, such as granting temporary duty free importation of rice, [the] temporary elimination or reduction in the tax on gas,” [and the] “suspension of government discretionary spending, especially in the areas of vehicle purchase and travel.”

Rice is a staple food in Liberia and its price has been linked to controversy. A proposal by former Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth to increase the price of imported rice as a means of encouraging domestic production led to the infamous 1979 rice riots during which more than 40 people were killed.

Liberty Party National Chairman Israel Akinsanya II says ordinary Liberians are feeling the pinch of higher basic commodities prices.

“During our district by district tour, we encountered a lot of hardship that the Liberian people are facing due to [the] escalating increase in the price of basic commodities, especially rice and other edible items.  You have a bag of rice when Madam Sirleaf came to power in 2005 that was around $20 to $22 now being sold for $70 on the market.  You have a cup of rice that was sold for $5 just a few months ago now being sold for $30 Liberian dollars,” he said.

Akinsanya II said the situation is worrisome for many ordinary Liberians.

Commerce Minister Miatta Beysolow, however, says the call to reduce the price of rice is unjustified because Liberian rice is the cheapest in the West Africa subregion.

“If you look around the neighboring countries, you will find that in Liberia rice is selling at the lowest price possible. In Guinea, we have a price differential of $10 to $15 and, as a result, our rice is being smuggled into Guinea,” she said.

Beysolow said a 25-kilogram bag of rice is selling for between $15 and $17.50, while a 55-kilogram bag of rice is selling for $30 to $35.

“Also we have some unscrupulous business people who [are] hoarding rice, especially a taste for the Firestone rice and that rice is marked on the bag ‘Not for Sale,’” she said.

She accuses Liberty Party of playing politics with the price of rice.

“Rice has always been a political commodity and every political party wants to use it as a campaign issue, and we have made sure that it will not be a campaign issue.  We have brought into this country sufficient [rice] to last us through September on the ground in warehouses,” Beysolow said.

Akinsanya II denies his party is playing politics with the price of rice.

“I would disagree with that.  We did not create the situation [the 1979 rice riots].  What we are saying is that today’s reality on the ground is that a bag of rice is now sold for $75.  The cheapest bran of rice, which is the butter rice, is now sold for almost $45.  So, we are calling on the government to act now because the people are suffering,” Akinsanyan II said.

He says some of the players during the 1979 rice riots included both President Sirleaf and Florence Chenoweth.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Press Freedom

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs