Small Businesses Decry Depreciation of Liberian Dollars Against US Dollars
Monrovia – As the political wrangling and bickering continues in the aftermath of the October 10, 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections, many Liberians continue to express anger and frustration over the delay of the process.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]
Their frustrations, they say is due to the hardship they are encountering following the stalling of the electoral process that has brought economic activities in the country at a standstill.
Another situation that has caught the attention of many Liberians is the continuous decline of the Liberian Dollars (LD$) against the United States Dollars (US$).
Prior to the October 10 polls, the foreign exchange rate was LD$120 to US$1, something that was already angering many Liberians, especially small business owners and small income earners who use the Liberian Dollars in their everyday transactions.
Currently the exchange rate stands at LD$126.00 or LD$127.00 to US1.00; something that is causing serious consternation from the public, especially business owners.
Speaking with FrontPageAfrica, the entrepreneurs lamented that they are running out of businesses owing to the rapid depreciation of the Liberian Dollars against the US dollars and expressed dismayed over the continuous silence of the relevant authorities in the wake of the ensuing situation.
Benetta Kebeh Paivie, a seamstress who co-owns the JST Classic Fashion House on GSA Road in Paynesville bewailed that she is running out of business because her customers are not buying from her as they used to.
“The increase in the US rate is really affecting our business. Prices of all the materials we used here – from the elastic, linen, cloths, staving and to the lappers have all gone sky high. For instance, we used to buy a yard of linen for LD$50, but now we are buying it LD$75.
“We buy the materials very expensive and when we sew these beautiful designs and priced them in such a way to get small profit at the end of the day, nobody wants to buy them. With the way things prices are up, we are not running any good business.”
“We are just doing from hand to mouth now,” Paivie lamented.
She averred that at this time of the year, she usually gets more customers buying and bringing in clothes for sewing, but nowadays due to the hack in the exchange rate which has resulted in the increase in price of commodities, her customers hardly come to buy.
Consequently, Paivie said she has decided not to sew and sell clothes at her shop for now, rather to sit and wait for customers to bring in their own clothes, something she noted will cause a major setback in her business because as she puts it.
“Not all of the time people will bring clothes for us to sew for them.”
Jefferson Williams, who runs a shop in Paynesville, is another small business owner that is feeling the pinch of the situation.
Mr. Williams told FPA that his shop is now empty because he hardly gets goods from his suppliers.
Business is very bad of because of the high US rate. We don’t even know what to buy and how to sell.”
“This is because the rate changes every day. For example when you buy your goods at a particular price today, tomorrow the rate will change and the price of those same goods you bought will change.”
“Sometimes at the end of the day, we come back with the money. This is actually bad,” Williams intoned.
He explained that he usually purchases his goods in United States Dollars because his suppliers will devalue the Liberian Dollars so he will end up paying more money in the local currency than in US dollars; something he noted is affecting him.
He appealed also called on the authorities to intervene and save his business and others who are bearing the brunt like him.
“My call to the authorities is let us use our Liberian Currency. This will be better for us.”
“This will ease the burden on us the small business owners because there will be fixed price. This is causing serious problems for us.”
“The US Dollars is not our currency. Our currency is the LD. We should use it,” he urged.
Ophelia Lewis Karr, another entrepreneur, explaining her ordeal called on the government of Liberia to intervene; adding that if nothing is done their businesses will collapse completely.
“Business is not fine at all these days. Things prices have gone up because of the increase in the US rate.”
“So when we buy the goods, we increase the price a little to get small profit, but when the customers come they complain a lot.”
“Sometimes they won’t buy and would just walk out.”
“Since most of our suppliers don’t like to hold the Liberian Dollars, we have to change the money to US dollars. “
“Then we will buy the US at higher price before getting the goods,” Mrs. Karr said.
Another small business owner who also spoke to FPA was Pinky Williams. Pinky usually inputs her goods from Nigeria.
She explained that since she uses Foreign currencies to purchase her goods and sell to consumers largely in Liberian Dollars, she catches hard time in finding the US Dollars.