Tarpeh Meets Press After 14 Days Assuming Official Duty

Commerce Minister, Prof. Tarpeh and other officials of the MOCI
Commerce Minister, Prof. Tarpeh and other officials of the MOCI
Photo Credit: Public Affairs

February 27, 2018: - We are glad to address you today exactly 14 days after assuming official function of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. As you may know the activities of this Ministry affects every aspect of life of everyone living within our borders. The Ministry of Commerce & Industry is pivotal commerce, trade facilitation, providing standards of commodities that should be sold on the Liberian Market, ensuring that we maintain order in the market place. as well as price regulation, all within the spirit of the free market where demand and supply are allowed to play their part but within reasonable limits and bounds.


In order to effectively play this role, the Team has determined that a robust inspectorate regime is required, and is being assembled. It will be a system that cleans up the market of sub-standard and expired goods, institute quality standards, appropriate pricing, as well as ensure fairness, reasonableness, and above all the best value for our consumers.


As His Excellency, President George Manneh Weah continues to say, this government would encourage investment and businesses in this country. Let me assure of this government’s commitment to protect these businesses, as you continue to operate here in keeping with the relevant laws and regulations.


However, what this government would not accept are attempts to exploit the businesses to the detrimental of the Liberian people who overwhelmingly elected this PRO-POOR government. The government would remain engaged with the business community for the welfare and wellbeing of its citizens.


Presently, the Ministry of Commerce is investigating what really led to the shortage of chicken eggs or the hike in the price of this commodity on the Liberian market. Let me say that if any business is found culpable for this act, the government would not hesitate to take appropriate action in keeping with the law. Let me reiterate that this is no time for business as usual. This government remains open for business. But in the same vein, it would not accept any unscrupulous dealing that would add to the hardship being faced by its citizenry.


We expect businesses in this country to function in line with the law, as any act contrary to this would face the full weight of the laws. We would not compromise the interest of the Liberian people for selfish one.


The time for indiscriminate price hiking (especially for our essential commodities like, eggs, gasoline, food items, etc.); sub-standard goods, and chaos and disorder in the commerce and trade of Liberia are over. The time when business owners would assault a government official for doing his/her job and then go with impunity, is over. In the last two weeks, This team has met with a cross section of the business community and indicated its willingness to work in making commerce and industry better. We have also made it crystal clear that the Ministry of Commerce & Industry is no longer going to be business as usual. I lead a team of young people who are committed, dedicated, motivated and united in upholding and implementing President Weah’s unapologetic statement that ‘Liberians will no longer be spectators in their own economy’.


In one of its routine inspections, our inspectors found that a business named Fouani Brother Corporation located in Vai town, Monrovia, unilaterally hiked the price of eggs from the stipulated maximum price of US$35.89 per carton of 360 eggs to S$70. This action by Fouani is in flagrant violation of section 5.1 of the Competition law of 2016. Upon receipt of the field report and as required by law, the Ministry invited the company to a conference, which was held on.


Friday, February 23, 2018. When confronted with the evidence, which included among other things, the IPD, supplier Invoices, Sales Involves, customs payments, and port charges etc., Fouani admitted to the violation without any contestation. His only plead was for mercy and leniency since according to him was his first offence. Section 5.7 of the Completion law of 2016 imposes a monetary penalty for anyone violator in an amount not exceeding US$100,000. Tis means the fine can be any amount from US1-US$100,000. Messer Fouani Brother Corporation was therefore adjudged guilty. In the instant case, however, the Ministry has decided to serve a serious warning to the general business environment – that why the CDC Government stands ready to support and encourage the private investment, it will not accept any attempt by any business or business to conduct itself in unlawful and inappropriate acts that will undermine the orderliness of the commerce and trade and bring unwarranted hardship to our citizens and consumers alike. It is in this spirit and taking into account that this is the first known offense, that a fine of US$25,000 has been imposed on Fouani Brothers Corporation for blatantly, deliberately and willfully violating Section 5.1 of the Competition Law of 2016. A letter communicating this decision has been delivered to Fouani Brothers Corporation. The fine is to be paid to the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) within Seventy-Two (72) hours.