The minister of Trade and Industry, Alimamy P Koroma, has expressed dismay over the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.
Addressing importers and stakeholders of the business community on Monday at the ministry’s Youyi building conference hall, he explained that price increase was a global problem but “however, government has observed that some of the price increase is the handiwork of some business people”.
Though the minister noted that the conference was not a finger-pointing one, eyes were however turned on businesspeople as causers of the crisis.
“If we continue to protect our own interest, we will get to a stage where we will lose everything,” the minister averred.
The minister accentuated that, “if any riot should [spark-up] the first victims are the business people…Government respects and is committed to free trade and trade liberalization policies that allow market forces to operate. However, government has observed that some business people take undue advantage of these policies and government’s compliance with them, thus creating hardship on the people or consumers”. The minister stressed that, ‘the government totally deplores this attitude and situation.”
In addition to the series of consultations previously held by the ministry of Trade and Industry with importers, wholesalers, civil society, consumers and other stakeholders, the minister said, “measures have been put in place to address the issues of smuggling, exploitation, and profiteering.”
In highlighting measures to combat the situation, he noted that “government has strengthened the ministry of Trade and Industry by appointing additional Trade Monitors; government has [also] setup a Task Force comprising ministry of Trade officials, the police, NRA, consumers, and civil society actors to curb smuggling and other vices; [finally] government through the ministry of Trade and Industry will continue to hold consultations with importers, wholesalers and other stakeholders with a view to addressing their concerns on import tariffs and taxes,” he said.
By Ophaniel Gooding