July 27, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board (SLPMB) has complained exporters of cocoa and coffee to Members of Parliament for their alleged non-compliance with rules and regulations enunciated by the board.
During a meeting with the Committee on Trade and Industry in Parliament last week, Madam Isatu Haja Kabba told lawmakers that despite being mandated to monitor activities of exporters of cocoa and coffee, “out of the fifteen export companies in the country none of them allow us to monitor their export activities, neither do they allow us to inspect their stores. We have posted monitoring inspectors to their various stores but all were being closed with lockers and we cannot break them.”
Madam Kabba stated that in 2014 they made payment of Le250 million to eight international partners or exporters they were dealing with and conducted a study on price changes in cocoa and coffee exportation, which was priced at Le9,000 and Le6,000 respectively, but buyers bought at Le12,000 for cocoa per kilo and Le7,000 for coffee which, according to her, was good for the farmers as they made profit.
She lamented that some farmers still dry cocoa and coffee on the bare floor, and that such could undermine the health of consumers. She said they also encounter challenges when products packed in containers and ready to be shipped abroad are held for long periods at the quay, which forces exporters to pay high demurrage.
Responding, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Trade and Industry, Hon. Francis A. Kaisamba, said the meeting would help members understand activities undertaken by the board and exporters, and challenges that both might be grappling with in their respective activities.
Hon. Umar Paran Tarawally submitted that representatives of exporters present at the meeting were not quite satisfactory in explaining their side of the events, thus suggesting that another meeting be convened inviting all exporters with a view to eliciting fruitful dialogue.
No date was fixed though for the next meeting.