The Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has confirmed the increment in the price of alcoholic beverages in the country. The confirmation by GoL followed media reports questioning the abrupt increment in the prices of alcoholic beverages, including Club Beer and Stout.
Speaking at a news conference over the weekend, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry through its Deputy Minister for Public Affairs, Rufus Neufville, said the increment in the price of alcoholic beverages on the Liberian market was put forward by the Ministry of Finance and the Liberian Legislature.
According to him, the lawmakers recently passed a piece of legislation authorizing the Ministry of Finance to increase taxes paid by the Monrovia Breweries from 11% to 20% on alcoholic beverages. He said the Legislature also told the Finance Ministry to decrease the price of soft drink a non-alcoholic beverage to 3%. He was quick to point out that the increment in price will not be extended to any other basic or essential product in the country.
Meanwhile, the Commerce & Industry official has dismissed media reports that it was the Ministry of Commerce and Industry that unilaterally increased the price of alcoholic beverages, adding, “The ministry has no such power except to monitor compliance of businesses with the GoL.”
He noted that the government was in dire need of money through taxation to fund its basic social services programs like road and school construction across the country and as such, increment of taxes on “non-basic” commodity was sure way of generating they money.
Minister Neufviller, a former lawmaker in the erstwhile National Transitional Government and the 52nd Legislature on the ticket of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), made it clear that the government remains uncompromising on raising the tax ceiling on all alcoholic beverages.
“The exact taxes will be imposed because alcoholic beverages and cigarette are non basic commodity, they are luxury goods, you cannot live without food like rice but you can live without beer, stout or smoking,” said Minister Neufville. “We will continue to keep prices of essential goods low. As a government, we will make sure that they are not overly taxed. We will make sure that the ordinary persons can afford it,” he amongst other things added.