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

    Multimedia

    Audio
    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 Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora