Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen made the disclosure when he appeared before Parliament to respond to a question by Murtala Muhammed Ibrahim, Tamale Central MP how much the state spent on the importation of rice and other foodstuffs into the country in the past four years.
Alan Kyerematen also acknowledge from the figures provided that the country was spending close to US$1 billion on the importation of food items.
Responding to a question of whether the government has lifted a ban on small rice importers, Mr Kyerematen stated that rice was a staple food in the country and one had to maintain a delicate balance between the quantity of rice produced locally at any point in time and what was important was to ensure that there were no serious shortages.
He said the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture continue to monitor the production of rice, and at the appropriate time when the volumes of local rice increase significantly the government would be able to restrict the importation of rice.
Alan Kyerematen also maintained that the government has not lifted any ban imposed on the small rice importers but the Ministry has a management policy to ensure that there were no shortages in the system.
He noted that as and when there is significant local rice production in the country the Ministry would be able to determine at that point what decision to take in respect of the ban.
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