Rice importers Plot Uncovered!
-Liberians Must Beware of Profiteers
The government of India has uncovered a big network of profiteers in the rice importing business in India, a complicity to exploit that is similar to what a team of Public Agenda newspaper reporters have found out due to Liberia’s incapacity to ensure self sufficiency in food production.
According to our investigation team, there is a serious scan hatched by rice importers in the country to defraud and exploit the Liberian masses, a complicity that previous governments have made no effort to come to the aid of the Liberian consumers especially the poor masses.Now that the Liberian people are becoming more and more conscious of their rights under President Weah’s pro-poor development agenda, it is hoped that every action must be taken by government to remedy the situation and bring to book people that are involved in the scan.
The network in India operates in close collaboration with their Liberian counterparts who are the principal Liberian rice importers.
According to our discovery, rice exporters in Asia normally charge between US$13and50 cents, and US$14 and 50 cents for a 50kg (big bag) of India or Thai parboiled rice, but once the consignment arrives in Liberia, the Liberian rice importers would deliberately inflate this figure on the IPDs sent to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries in Liberia, because as stated there is a lack of care on the part of the Liberian government and the consuming public in Liberia.
Our investigation has further revealed that in most cases, major rice importers have stopped the importation of the 50kg (Big) bags of rice and are now mostly trading in the 25kg (small bags) of rice while pocketing forthemselves the same amount they have been gaining from the 50kg big bag parboiled rice, as a means of perpetuating their scheme.
For instance, couples of IPDs obtained by this paper which the importers sent to the Ministry of Commerce reveal that a 25kg bag of the parboiled rice was sold by Indian exporters at US$14.50, which our investigation team found out to be the price placed on the IPDs as exporters price for the 25kg, which should have been for the 50Kg rice bag price.
In our efforts to make comparisons with statistics and index furnished by other countries importing rice to Liberia, our investigation team encountered the Third World Investment and Development Corporation Inc., an International Development, Investment and Trade Corporation on Sunday February 25, 2018 revealed its commodity Quote for Africa which included Liberia.
The company revealed that Thai white, long grain, 5% broken is sold for US$13.50 or US$270 for a metric ton. A metric ton of 50kg of rice is 20 bags, while a metric ton of the 25kg is 40 bags.
This price is the same for Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and other West African nations, according to the International Rice trader.
The Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) also revealed almost similar amount for a 50kg of a bag of rice.
Conversely, half of the price is sold for a 25kg bag of 5% broken white rice. That means that a 25kg bag of Indian or Thai white is sold for between US$6.75 to US$7 by exporters. In Liberia consumers pay nearly USD$15 for price of a bag of rice whereas the importers expenses stand at only USD$5. What a profiteering scam!
HAS, a Pakistani IRRI6 Rice Exporter to Liberia has shown similar prices.
The Liberian Government has removed tariff from rice for the past two years, yet the price of rice on the local market never drops.
Last year, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf renewed the removal of tariff on Rice.
Executive Order No. 45, titled “Extension of Executive Order No. 19, Suspension of Tariff on Rice,” states that the Government of Liberia, in its desire to continue bringing relief to the public, is extending Executive Order No. 19, suspending the import tariff on rice as classified under tariff Nos. 1006.30.00 (in packing of more than 5kg or in bulk); 1006.30.00 (in packing of at least 5kg); and 1006.40.00 (broken rice) under the Revenue Code of Liberia Act 2000 with immediate effect.”
Every attempt made by this paper to speak with major importers in the country failed up to press time, as among the many excuses for not seeing the boss included being in a meeting or has traveled out of the country. Public relations people linked to the companies insist on seeing evidence against their entities before they can allow reporters from this paper to speak with their clients.
One source who preferred not to be named however stated that one Mr. Johnson Bestman, a Liberian former Government official is the head of the rice cartel. But when we tried to call him, but when his phone rang he never picked it up.
Rice Importers’ Meeting with President Weah
Few weeks ago, Rice Importers Association led by John Bestman met with the new Liberia President and misled him on the situation in the rice importation business, although for the love of the common poor people of this country, President Weah prevailed on him to something to reduce the price of imprted rice on the Liberian market.
Unfortunately, the Rice Importers Association of Liberia have failed to tell the new Liberian Leader that they have cheated the country for over ten years, but just hastily agreed to drop the price on a 50kg by $4 and 25kg by $2 without a comprehensive and lengthy explanation of their profits and risks margins.
It is almost two weeks since these importers met with the President; they are yet to comply with whatever mandate that came out of the meeting.
But why did Rice Importers Succeed In duping the poor masses Unnoticed?
Some patriotic employees of the Ministry of Commerce said they regret that the new Liberia President, ambassador George Weah met with the Rice Importers without a background check.
“I am not very sure that the President is aware that the issue of rice importation in Liberia is a real Cartel, that ought to be confronted with an iron fist, ad they are a group of mostly foreign Business people who in most cases conspire and connive with some Government officials to exploit the poor masses”, said one of the employees.
In the past Government, directives are given from the Executive Mansion to process the IPDs of some major Rice Importers. “You dare not to comply or get lost from your job”, said another Commerce Ministry staff.
A first family member of the former regime would threaten any Journalist who dare question a major Rice Importers here, according to another employee of the Ministry of Commerce. This was confirmed by some Journalists, as a member of the ex-first family was serious engaged in the rice importing business which observers feel leaves no room for a serious official encouragement of rice farming in the country.
Liberia’s rice importers buy from few of the top ten Rice Exporting Countries in the World which include China, Thailand, Pakistan, USA, India, etc.
When the fraudulent actions of Indian rice exporters made newspaper headlines recently the Indian Farm Minister Radha Mohan Singh explained to the press that they, the Indian authorities, cannot understand why India has set the purchase price for the 100 kg bag of rice at 60 rupees in the year 3016/17, while the minimum purchase price for common grade-rice to be paid to local farmers, for about 4.3 percent, or 60 rupees.
Unfortunately due to fraud they, the farmers and exporters in India are selling 1,470 rupees or ($21.89) per 100 kg big bag of, Farm Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Wednesday.
Our investigation team therefore recommends that a price of a 25kg bag of rice ought not to exceed US$10 and a price while that of a 50kg bag of rice is recommended not to be sold for price exceeding US$20 on the Liberian market, after all tax expenses incurred by the importer. (Read more on our investigation team’s report in our subsequent editions).