Thursday, May 8, 2008

The secret behind low food prices

Maybe a command economy isn’t so bad, after all. Just days after a Gambian newspaper claimed that even with a poor rice crop, the country wasn’t going to face the food price crisis afflicting the rest of the region – and much of the world.

Now we find out why: Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh won’t let rice traders sell the commodity at high prices. So far, rice importers are going along with it, saying rice stocks are plentiful and there is no need to start a panic by buying a lot.

From Reuters:

"I will use electric broom or send businessmen to jail, those who are bent on selling rice at 1,000 dalasi," Jammeh told residents in the northern town of Farafenni, some 120 km (75 miles) inland from the coastal capital Banjul.

"If anyone is selling a bag of rice at 900 dalasi, take him to police, it is unlawful," Jammeh said.

"Electric broom" is a phrase sometimes used in Gambia to describe Jammeh's propensity to fire officials at will. Jammeh has previously threatened to lock up journalists and shut down their newspapers if he felt he had good reason.

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