Will it hold?
It is expected that with the lowering of the exchange rate such as one U.S dollar being changed for LD$100 to LD$ 150 or LD$140, there will equally be a significant reduction of prices that jumped up overnight as a result of the unexpected increases in the Liberian dollar against the U.S dollar.
The question that is rumbling around Monrovia is that given the corrupt attitudes of some unscrupulous members of the business Community, people are in doubt whether it will be possible to convince traders and drivers to easily scale down prices of commodities, especially increases that occurred as a result of the high rate paid to get the U.S dollar?According to our PUBLIC AGENDA investigation team, who went out to obtain the opinions of a cross section of the Liberian public and traders, some traders, foreigners and Liberians were complaining that reducing amounts that were added to their prices as a result of the high rate will only happen after clearing all the goods that they bought with high amounts of Liberian dollars paid for the U.S dollars they paid for to import the goods.
Traders interviewed at Clara town and Waterside stated that they will adjust their prices to the former ones, only after they have cleared their shelves of goods that they had to pay high amounts of Liberian dollars to obtain the U.S dollar needed to purchase and import.
“Even if the purchase was done in Lebanese stores at Vai-town, at Waterside or in the Red-light market area in Monrovia, we had to pay high amounts in Liberian dollars equivalent of whatever was charged in U.S dollars,” some traders said.
A similar development is also going on with the transport fares charged to passengers.
According to our sources, President George Manneh Weah who has the development interest of the country and people at heart has taken the initiative to subsidize 14 cents per gallon of petroleum products.
What has happened despite that intervention is that some drivers are so unscrupulous and stubborn that they assume that they are not aware of either the gradual drop of the Liberian dollar on the exchange rate market nor of government’s intervention of 13 cents per gallon subsidy meant to reduce the price of petroleum products on the market.
Up to now, commuters continue to be exploited by ‘Kekeh’ and bike riders as well as taxi drivers. It is not surprising then that many bike riders are charging LD$100 from Freeport to New Georgia or Barnersville junctions, while others are charging over a LD$100 from central Monrovia, with arguments that there is no price control.
Similar stories are narrated all around Monrovia, something which makes it necessary that government comes out with policy statements meant to set the exchange rate between the Liberian and the U.S dollar, and the prices of basic goods and services as well as transport charges according to distances and destinations covered.