- Published on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 07:10
- Written by Sam Zota Jr. Cell#00231-886474563/777-464056
This article is intended to raise some public conscientiousness about why the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) should cease to exist in Liberia.
I strongly believe, like the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and Finance, Bureau of the Budget (BOB) and Finance, Ministry of National Security, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), among others, were either merged or dissolved by an Act of the Legislature equally so the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) should either be dissolved or merged with other Ministries and agencies of government.
This needless ministry is among several ministries and agencies that are computing over the country's meager budget every year.
Background and Functions of MCI
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry was established by an Act of Legislature in 1987. It was originally established in 1948 as the Department of Agriculture and Commerce.
On June 1, 1962 the Ministry became the Department of Commerce and Industry. On December 31, 1971 the name was changed to Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Transportation.
An Act detaching the Bureau of Transport from the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Transportation, resulted in the current Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The Ministry was established to regulate commodity and trade standards, collect, evaluate, and publish data pertaining to Commerce and Industry in Liberia.
It was also established to enforce standards for business practices, promote sound development of foreign and domestic trade, and issue import and export permits.
This Ministry should be responsible to control quality of goods and commodity imported and exported, implement efficient and effective trade management system including pre-shipment Inspection of imports and exports and monitor and regulate prices of essential goods on the Liberian market.
The three bureaus (administration, commerce and trade and industry) are subdivided into 13 Divisions and they are: Personnel, Finance, Electronic Data Processing, Information, and Planning & Research, Foreign Trade, Domestic Trade, Inspectorate, Price Analysis & Marketing, Standards, Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Industrial Development, Industrial Administration & Supervision.
Now, why it should cease to exist
Reading through the functions of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and looking at today's realities, I get seriously appalled and ask myself so many questions.
This Ministry was established to regulate commodity and trade standards, collect, evaluate, and publish data pertaining to Commerce and Industry in Liberia, but you will agree with me that these are merely documented and not being implemented.
They are also charged with the responsibility of enforcing standards for business practices; promote sound development of foreign and domestic trade in Liberia. What are the regulations for commodities on our local market? What are the standards for commodities on our market? How does the ministry carry out evaluation of the local market? These are many questions that pondered my mind daily.
It unarguable, that in Liberia, everyone controls his or her own price. Even the Minister and other officials of the ministry have repeatedly said they have no control over prices of commodities on the Liberian market. This statement usually leads me to wonder whether the minister and officials of that ministry are aware and understand the functions of that institution. Prices of commodities triple daily at the detriment of the Liberian people.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is also responsible to control quality of goods and commodity imported and exported, implement efficient and effective trade management system including pre-shipment Inspection of imports and exports and monitor and regulate prices of essential goods on the Liberian market. Aren't they (minister and officials) informed that these instructions also form part of their functions at that ministry? What level of control does the ministry has over goods and other commodities that are brought into the country? What are the qualities of goods that should be on our market? No control mechanisms, instead, what is being experienced in Liberia are loose, uncontrollable and unregulated market system. Business owners and traders increase prices of basic commodities at will. Who cares, when the Ministry that should regulate and monitor says it lacks control over the market; contradicting the Act that created it.
It also suggests to me that, either something is lacking at the ministry.
I also wonder why the minister and her corps of officers would put forth such a weak and lazy argument when there are people being paid with taxpayers' money in various departments, such as Inspectorate, Price Analysis & Marketing, and Standards etc. what then, are the modus operandi of these departments when our market have been overwhelmed with expired, substandard and other bad commodities?
What is the significance of creating an institution that is of no help to the Liberian people; in order words, irrelevant to the country's economy?
Let ministries and agencies of government that are non-functional and ineffective be deleted from our laws.
I am of the strongest conviction that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry should not exist as in the cases of the Bureau of the Budget, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of National Security, and National Bureau of Investigation, among others. It has outlived its usefulness and needs no financial support.