While the national government prides itself for upholding the 50 cents per pound for copra, the notion is becoming a nuisance to the people of Ailinglaplap. According to Ailinglaplap Senator Alfred Alfred, Jr., over 2,000 bags of copra have been sitting on the atoll since June last year without being picked up. “That’s $160,000 waiting to be collected,” Alfred claims.
Senator Alfred continuously questioned the status of the copra in limbo during the recent session of Nitijela to no avail. The problem particularly hits small businesses on Ailinglaplap, which receive copra from local residents in exchange for food and other goods at their stores. But the bags lose a percentage of their weight over time, as well as being attacked by rats, which results in loss to the store owners. Ailinglaplap local businessmen Jason Menanso and Jeiar Juano shared Alfred’s frustration: “We are close to shutting down our businesses because we are unable to replenish cash needed to sustain our businesses,” the duo told the Journal.
The two business people said vessels continue to collect copra from Ailinglaplap, yet the copra being collected is from the “newer pile” and not from the thousands of bags left uncollected from last year.
Read more about this in the June 21, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.