The Liberian dollar shortage in the economy has become more critical as the year end festivities draw closer.
According to survey conducted by our reporters recently regarding the local currency on the market, it was revealed that businesses and Salary earners especially the Civil Servants who are now being paid in Liberian Dollars are experiencing frustration withdrawing cash to meet their needs.
Our reporters went into the market and visited various commercial banks to assess the current situation. The findings are mixed and the degree of scarcity of the Liberian dollar varies from bank to bank.
One of the banks which has been reliably and constantly supplying cash has been the United Bank for Africa(UBA)Plc. This paper has reliably gathered that there is no shortage of Liberian dollars at the United Bank for Africa Liberia Limited (UBA).
Customers were jubilantly seen in queues making Liberian dollar withdrawals from the ATMs at their branches and other UBA ATM outlets. Some of the customers interviewed also confirmed they were able to make their withdrawals across the counter without hindrance. The only concerns were the payments were mostly in lower bills of L$20, L$50 and L$100. Most of them expected bigger bills.
In an effort to ascertain more facts from UBA, our reporter was granted interview by the Managing Director of UBA, Lekan Balogun. He said, the bank would continue to delight her esteemed customers by ensuring their cash needs are met at all times especially during this festive season.
Not only that, but also, said UBA Liberia has been the only bank issuing Liberia Dollar denominated VISA Cards and ATMs dispensing Liberia Dollars in the market.
'Our ATMs are 24/7 and strategies have been put in place to ensure uninterrupted services. We will continue to encourage our customers - especially the individuals and salary account holders to obtain their L$ VISA cards to enable them have access to cash at our ATMs at their own convenient time," he said.
When our reporter asked if there is scarcity of Liberian dollars in UBA Liberia, the Managing Director responded "No Bank will have cash shortage to meet withdrawals and at the same time be evacuating cash to the CBL. We have been evacuating excess cash to CBL on regular basis. We don't have such challenge in our bank and the records are there in CBL to confirmed".
Our reporter visited other banks and the stories are different as some workers were seen in queue awaiting to make withdrawal across the counter. The worst hit banks are those that maintain account for majority of the Government workers -whose salaries are paid in Liberia Dollars and the Thrift Societies making withdrawals from their target savings.
Currency Economic Situation.
Liberians and foreign residents are brooding over the excessive increment of the United States Dollar rate over its Liberian Dollar counterpart as the rate continues to climb to a record high, a situation that has plunged the ordinary Liberians into more hardship.
Many decried this situation and blamed it on the Liberian Government of being insensitive to the plight of the people, noting that the US dollar has taken over the country's economy to the extent that the local currency is greatly affected by disparity in the local market. Also, more need to be done to reduce the use of cash to barest minimum. There should be deliberate policy on digital banking to avert future cash squeeze occurrence.
When our reporter called Cyrus Badio, Communication Director for Central Bank for comment, he did not respond.
However sources there confided in our reporter by saying this: "There has been some issues with shortage on the Liberian market when it comes to Liberian dollars."
"We have observed that there is shortage of Liberian dollars on the market at the moment despite huge sums we printed. I think one of two commercials banks has Liberian dollars and UBA is certainly one of them. That I know for certain," the source declined to be name said.