Market Women Lament Rising Foreign Exchange Rate as It Affects Their Businesses
Monrovia – Oretha Boko sells frozen foods including chicken and pig feet in the Old Road Market, Monrovia. She says the exchange rate is too high for the business community and it is causing her to suffer.
Report by Alline Dunbar, [email protected]
“When we go to buy the rate is too high; the US rate is suffering us in this country because we can just play with ice for nothing,” Oretha explains to an FPA reporter.
When asked about the flow of business and what her profit is like, she says her profit is fast or slow based on her daily sale.
“I get L$200 profit most time, what can this do? When a cup of rice is L$50 dollars? It is not easy to wake up five o’clock and when you come you play with ice the whole day then you can’t benefit nothing good from there. I got three children in Haywood [Mission Instaitute] just imagine,” she explains.
Oretha wants President George Weah “to do something” about the exchange rate because it is the reason why most Liberians are suffering.
Another marketer, Mamie Davids who sells dried fish at the Old Road Market, is also struggling to keep her business afloat.
“Right now we’re buying the fish higher rate, I can get the money I spent to buy the fish with but no [I don’t get] profit,” she said.
Faith Nyakun, a used clothes seller, says the pace of the exchange rate is a serious problem for her business because she must purchase in US dollars but most of her customers buy in Liberian dollars.
“In fact, when you buy the market, to even get the money from the goods it’s difficult because people are not buying and the rate is high,” Nyankun complains, adding that the rate in the stores are always higher than the forex bureaus.
“When I go to the store when the rate is L$180 to US$1 outside [in the exchange bureaus], in the store, it will be L$189 to US$1 and this causes serious problem for us,” she said.
Faith is also calling on the government to fix the exchnage rate problem to prevent her business from collapsing.
Oretha Binda, a vegetable seller, says the exchange rate is also affecting her business. She says her purchasing power has declined.
“The buying is hard, when we go buy from the people they sell to us expensive and when we bring it to the market we ourselves have to sell it in a way that we will have little profit and customers are not coming because they say the market too expensive,” Binda said.
When asked why she thinks the farmers are selling the vegetable expensive, she stated that according to them the price of fertilizers used to grow the vegetables are now too expensive, while transportation is also skyrocketing.
Regina Hold, another used clothes seller, says the exchange rate is affecting every sector of the business community due to the devaluation of the Liberian dollar.
“When we go buy it gives us a hard time because the goods we used to buy we can’t buy it any longer because the people carry the price up,” she said.
However, Oretha Jacob, who sells ripe plantains at the Old Road Market, says she sees nothing wrong with the increasing exchange rate because she buys and sells her goods in Liberian dollars.
“My market, I can buy it in Liberian dollars. Sometimes I buy the plantain bunch L$1,000 dollars and I bring it and put it down L$400 or L$200 and I get L$200 profit. I used whatever profit I get to buy cups of rice for me and my children to eat,” she said, but called on the government to stabilize the exchange rate.