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|Handle The Rice Issue With Care|
|Published on August 31, 2006||Email To Friend Print Version
Recent decision by the Ministry of Commerce to ban one of the major importers of the nation’s staple food, rice, is creating uneasiness among the Liberian people.
The Liberian Government argued that Mr. George E. Haddad’s Bridgeway Corporation had lost to a new bidding process, claims totally dismissed by all of the major rice importers including known Haddad’s business rivals.
Liberians are confused as to who is telling the truth. But if at all the Ministry o f Commence insists that there was a bidding process and the rice importers and dealers want to print a different picture of the situation, then the ministry should present those application letters submitted by competing rice importers to the conscience of the Liberian people by publishing same in the various newspapers.
One needs to note that the issue of rice in Liberia is an issue of life and death which political forces with hidden and clever agenda should not venture to temper with or manipulate.
In 1979 to be precise on April 14, official recklessness and miscalculation over the very rice issue sparked a national catastrophe when state security opened fire on peaceful and unarmed protesters.
They slaughtered hundreds of the sons and daughters of this country who tried to demonstrate their opposition to the very Commence Ministry’s plan to increase the price of a bag of rice.
The proposed increment at the time, would not have enraged the Liberian masses, had information of President Tolbert’s friends and relatives’ involvement in the production, importation and sale of rice was not at its peak.
Again, the very Commerce Ministry is at the center of a rice saga with ripped rumors of business links between some high state functionaries and the OLAM, the company which the ministry says won a bidding process that many opined never existed.
With too many warnings from pundits about possible danger if the current strategy of the commerce Ministry is not reversed, the writing on the wall of April 14, 1979 is clear and to prevent this, let policy-makers Handle The Rice Issue With Much Care, Sincerity and Maturity and not double-tongue propaganda.