As the exchange rate between the Liberian and United States dollars continues to decline rapidly, consumers and traders have complained of what they see as worsening economic constraints and additional hardship on the vast majority of Liberians and foreign residents.
During a random sampling of views conducted by the WHISTLEBLOWER, for over a month now, the exchange rate between the US and Liberian dollars has declined drastically, but without drop in prices of basic commodities.
Alice Morgan, a rice dealer at the Rally Time Market, stated frustratingly that the unstable exchange rate has greatly affected her business, including the sale and purchasing of basic goods and services.
Within the Paynesville and Central Monrovia environments, the exchange rate now stands at US$1 to 150. It all started when the exchange rate declined from its stable L$170 to US$1 and began fluctuating between L$160-155 to US$1.
A number of marketers, vendors, petty traders who spoke to the WHISTLEBLOWER within the commercial environs of Central Monrovia, Duala, Water Side Market and Old Road Joe Bar expressed frustration over the current situation.
For his part, Moses Barchue, dealer of cosmetics at Water Side Market, blamed those he labeled as heartless business people for exploiting the situation to profiteer at the detriment of the ordinary people.
Barchue added that the current situation is impeding economic growth and development in the society.
He accused persons involved in higher businesses such as store owners of continuously using the previous high exchange rate whenever petty traders decide to use Liberian dollars to purchase commodities with prices in US currency.
Another petty trader dealing in Brazilian hair, Munah Koffah explained her ordeal: “The rate is very low. It dropped outside, but in the stores where we can buy, the rate is still high. If you go to buy in Liberian dollars, you will have to pay L$800 for five dollars US. But if you come outside to change your money, the people will give you L$750.”
Additional traders alleged that whenever they go to purchase their in US dollars, they are being requested to place additional Liberian dollars to arrive at the full amount.
“There are some store owners who are accepting Liberian dollars but their rate is L$800 to US$5. This is unfair and if the government is not doing anything about that, many of us will go out of business. If the rate drops, prices in Liberian dollars should come down equally,” cried Rebecca Momo, who trades in blouses.
According to her, buyers are no longer troop for her goods as a result of the depreciation of the Liberian bank notes.
A group of women involved in frozen fish and meat disclosed that they have resolved to the act of joint ventures in order to meet up with the full amount required to purchase their commodities.
The situation, meanwhile, has prompted locals to prevail on the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to supply large amounts of Liberian dollars to the various commercial banks operating in the country. They believe this will create an unhindered trading environment.
Until the Central Bank and Ministry of Commerce and Industry announce measures in remedying the current hullabaloo, as enshrined in their statutory mandates, the fate of the common people remains bleak ahead of major events such as reopening of schools and the festive season.