Marketers at the Jacksonville Market in Harper City, Maryland County, Southeast Liberia are calling on the Government of Liberia to address the skyrocketing exchange rate between the Liberian dollar and the United States dollar, currently at 163LRD to US$1.00 in the forex market with corresponding upsurge in prices here.
In a live address to the nation on the current state of the economy on Monday, 16 July President George Manneh Weah announced series of medium and long-term prescriptions to salvage the economy, including immediate injection of US$25 Million in circulation to strength the Liberian dollar, at least in the short term, while other measures are being considered.
However, marketers in that part of the country lament the escalation in the exchange rate coupled with bad roads is causing serious economic hardship both in homes and at their business areas.
Specifically they note that increase in the exchange rate or depreciation of the Liberian dollar is greatly affecting the purchase of CFA to purchase goods from neighboring Ivory Coast.
One marketer Jamama Russell, explains to the New Dawn that previously a carton of fish was sold for less than four thousand (4,000) Liberian dollars, but since the escalation in the exchange rate, it is bow being sold for six thousand (6,000) Liberian dollars, an increase of more than 2,000LRD.
The current exchange rate in the county is 160 Liberian dollars to US$1.00 thus, leading to rise in prices of basic commodities. Adding her voice to her colleague, another marketer Madam Helena Harris, who is engaged in cross border trade, describes the shortage of forex exchange as a serious challenge, lamenting that if nothing were done by government the hardship would intensify.
Maryland County, which until 1857 was an independent state, largely depends on neighboring Ivory Coast for business transactions due to her distance from Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.
Following a referendum in February 1857 the Republic of Maryland joined Liberia as Maryland County on 6 April 1857.Citizens, business men and women in the county say they prefer going to Ivory Coast to purchase goods in order earn little profit than coming to Monrovia due to hike in transport fares.
Present fare from Maryland to Monrovia is between 7,500 and 8,000 Liberian dollars per passenger due to the road condition and increase in prices of gasoline and fuel oil.
Many persons who can afford to travel by means of air travel pay about US$150.00 per trip via the James Spriggs Payne Airfield in Monrovia. Flight schedules are Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Citizens in the southeast are anxiously awaiting the government’s plan to construct roads to connect counties in the region, which would provide relief to their long standing road challenge.
By George K. Momo/ Maryland-Editing by Jonathan Browne