By Lewis Verdier
The sharp increase in the exchange rate of the United States Dollars and CFA Ivory Coast Franc to the Liberian Dollars is said to be affecting residents in the South Eastern part of the country. The US rate is presently $81 to $83 to LD1 while 40-CFA Franc is exchanged for LD1, 800. According to reports gathered, the hike in the exchange rate is causing consumers to buy few goods due to the increase in the prices of commodities on the market in the rural areas. This high interest rate on foreign currency is causing instability of prices also.
Our correspondent in Maryland County said the price and exchange rate hike for residents of the rural areas mean that too much money is chasing limited commodities and residents cannot purchase with satisfaction noting that that is causing a serious slope on the market and similar slope extends to the buying rate.
It is reported that many economists and scholars have begun debating issues of how effective the country’s monetary and fiscal policy is. Freeman Wesley, a business man, told this paper how they are finding it difficult because goods are being bought slowly because all is due to buyers’ inability to buy as prices continue to increase.
Meanwhile, a university student, William Collins, has suggested that coins be reintroduced to help the situation of high rate while the National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia are calling on government to put in place a systematic monitoring mechanism to curb the increment in the exchange rate across the country.
An economist, Sam Jackson told this paper that there is a serious problem with the trade gap in the country and if such is not handled properly, the problem will continue to increase making reference to millions of United States Dollars that are spent by government and other business executives on the importation of goods, especially fuel and rice in the country.
Mr. Jackson attributed some of the problems to the Central Bank of Liberia Expansive Policy which has the responsibility to regulate the Liberian Dollars on the market but does not have control over the United States dollars.
The former Planning & Economic Minister, Togba Nah Tipoteh said the increment in exchange rates is a sign of bad governance and a clear indication that the government does not value its own currency because foreigners are allowed to take over the country’s raw materials at very lower costs and it is those same foreigners who transform the raw materials and sell their goods to Liberians at higher prices.
Dr. Tipoteh pointed out that the rate will continue to increase because top government officials have obligations abroad rather than in Liberia, something that requires American dollars and unless the government attaches value to its own currency like in the case of Ghana, the problem will continue to be on the increase.
Meanwhile, observing that the situation has been uncontrollable across the country during the past few months, the Liberian Senate also made it a subject for discussion in its plenary averring that the Liberian dollars continue to experience serious devaluation with respect to its exchange rate to the United States dollars.
Liberia is the only country in the sub-region that is adopting a dual currency regime. That is, the country simultaneously allows the Liberian dollars and the United States dollars to circulate freely in the same economy.
Meanwhile, still in the South East, there are reports of lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation in Zone#1 Mission Town, pleebo, Maryland County. Inhabitants in the area said the community has been in desperate need of safe drinking water for the past five years.
Mission Town is on the outskirt of Pleebo, an area also surrounded by the Pleebo Cemetery. Josephine Doe, a resident of the area said the community sometimes gets polluted from the grave yard apparently because some of the holes were not dug properly and or bodies were not placed properly; a situation they fear may one day pose serious health hazard in the area.
Mrs. Doe said they fetch water from an open well which was also dug about five years ago. The Mission Town residents said that they are surviving at the ‘Mercy of God’ and are calling on humanitarian organizations operating in the country to come to their aid.