-foreign merchants, local retailers clash
The current depreciation of the United States dollar against the Liberian dollar with the exchange rate at LRD150 for US$1.00 is causing serious stirs between foreign merchants and their Liberian counterparts.
Our reporter who witnessed a scene of bitter verbal exchange between workers of Sham Business Store situated in central Paynesville general market and Liberian retailers nearly resulted in fistfight over the rapid depreciation of the United States, which usually happens as the Charismas holiday approaches.
Sham business store is dealer of plastic chairs, tables and buckets, among other rubber products.
It all started when Mamie Tucker, a female Liberian had gone to purchase several items from the store but wanted to first know the exchange rate being offered.
As Ms. Tucker and other customers eagerly awaited response from the store workers, one of the foreign merchants informed the jammed-parked store of customers that his exchange rate was LRD700.00 for US$5.00.
In the same instance, a colleague of the foreign merchant who came from his office inside the store immediately said they were no longer accepting United States dollars except customers were willing to add on each US dollars LRD125.00, if they wish to purchase from the store.
This pronouncement by the Chinese national aggravated the many customers who were waiting to buy goods to go and transact business in Paynesville and other places.
One of the foreign merchants had received money from some Liberians, who after hearing the pronouncement regarding the exchange rate immediately demanded for their money back, something that sparked exchange of invectives between Sham store workers and Liberian customers.
As the tension grew in the store, one of the Chinese national remarked: “You cannot force us to do business with you and experience loses at the end of the day’s transaction … so if you don’t accept our rate you can go elsewhere to buy your goods.”
However, some of the Liberian business people wondered whether the current exchange rate that is creating tension among customers is sanctioned by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) which has authority to regulate all money matters in the country or was it self-imposed by foreign merchants engaged in trade.
Other places also visited by this paper saw the exchange rate further depreciating with other business entities setting it at LRD 675.00 for US$5.00. Up to September and mid-October this year, the exchange rate had been LRD200 for US$1.00 in the market.
By Emmanuel Mondaye–Editing by Jonathan Browne