The Inquirer (Monrovia)

22 January 2014

Liberia: We Are Concerned Too

editorial

FOR SOMETIMES NOW, the U.S Dollars exchange rate to that of the Liberian Dollar continues to escalate on the market, thus creating concerns among the citizenry and groups in the country. The situation is such that the Liberian Dollars continue to depreciate, while the U.S. dollars continue to appreciate, with serious consequences on the prices of goods and services.

OFFICIALLY UP TO press time, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) which has statutory mandate on government's monetary policy as the regulator, has announced that the buying rate is L$ 86.00 to US$ 1.00, while the selling rate is L$87.00 to US$ 1.00, but there are fears that the latest figures could rise to a higher rate by the end of the week, as there seems no solution in sight on the matter.

THE ESCALATING HIGH exchange rate of the United States dollars to that of the Liberian dollars has been a matter of concerns and discussions in many quarters. Additionally, it is also being discussed in official circles. At the second day sitting of the 3rd session of the 53rd Legislature, two Senators, George T. Tengbeh and Matthew Jaye of Lofa and River Gee Counties respectively wrote a communication to Plenary informing that body to probe the continuous increase in the United States dollars rate against the Liberian dollars.

AFTER THE COMMUNICATION of the two Senators was read on the floor of the Senate's chambers, several lawmakers described the escalating exchange rate on the Liberian market as a source of embarrassment for the economy as a whole and said that the situation has caused prices of most commodities to hike on the local market.

ALSO, TWO LIBERIAN economists have been giving reasons for the depreciating Liberian dollars for the past few months. Economist Sam Jackson told the INQUIRER on Monday that the problem affecting the increment in the rate can be solved if the government designs measures to invest in the forestry, fisheries and agricultural sectors of the country. He added 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.

SIMILARLY, FORMER PLANNING & Economic Minister, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh also said the increment in the rate is a sign of bad governance and a clear indication that the Government doesn't value its currency and pointed out that Liberians allow foreigners to take over the country's raw materials at a lower cost, because they (Liberians) don't value their money. "These same foreigners would transform the raw materials and sell their goods to Liberians at a higher price," he added.

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 warned that unless the government attaches value to its currency like in the case of Ghana, the problem will continue to be on the increase.

LIKE THE MANY Liberians, we are equally concerned that if nothing is done about this escalating exchange rate, this would obviously add to the hardships being faced by the Liberians, because of its consequences on the general price level of the economy. More importantly, it would affect their disposal income (take home pay), which will correspondingly have an adverse effect on purchasing power, thus making it difficult to afford the necessary goods and services to carry on their normal lives.

ALREADY, IT IS an open secret that the bulk of people live in abject poverty, and to see a continuous rise in the exchange rate of the Liberian dollar to that of the United Starts Dollar, would worsen the situation facing the ordinary Liberians.

WHILE THIS COUNTRY subscribes to the free market system, equally so, the government should always put into place proper machinery and measures, as safeguards in addressing some of those serious economic issues such as prices and exchange rates. This, we believe would avoid unnecessary exploitation and uncontrollable exchange rate.

ONCE MORE, WE are concerned about what is obtaining and call on those concerned, especially the CBL to act promptly to save the day, as the higher the rate, the more the sufferings and the hardship of the people that elected this government, with the belief of moving them from hardship to prosperity.

AS WE HAVE ALWAYS SAID, 'THE SOONER THE BETTER.

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