EDITORIAL: Allowing Guineans to Haul U.S. Dollars out of Liberia is Killing the Liberian Economy
NOBODY NEEDS to tell a government that solving the bread-and-butter issues affecting its citizens should be its paramount task. Rhetoric and propaganda aside, these are demands any government MUST heed. The ramifications of paying deaf ears are egregious.
WE DO NOT DISAGREE that some of the enormity of challenges impairing Liberia’s growth was inherited by President George Weah and his CDC-led government. But a counter-argument would suffice when premises are proffered about the government’s inability to employ robust and feasible strategies to remedy this dire situation.
CHIEF AMONGST THESE is the skyrocketing US Rate! This shows the rapid devaluation of the Liberian dollar, which is a situation MOST alarming. The frequency of economic hardship for everyday Liberians remains unprecedented as infliction remains uncontrollable.
We think what is being done by the government to remedy this privation is simply sheer rhetoric coated with ANTICS and BLAME SHIFTING on its predecessor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. For the exchange rate to be increasing daily is scaring but what is worse is allowing foreigners to illegally walk into our country and extract the already scare US dollars.
WE ARE NO ECONOMISTS and do not dare pretend to be one or venture into the intricacies of fixing an already broken economy. However, we know governance equates to the abilities to fixing issues confronting the people. That is why we are alerting the government about a potential problem that has the propensity of worsening our situation. This is what we know best – being the watchdog and alarming when there’s need.
FOR EXAMPLE, we recently reported how Guineans are illicitly extracting thousands of US dollars from Liberia’s economy by crossing the borders into Ganta, Nimba County. The once flourishing commercial city has taken a nosedive in recent months and with such troubling news, businesses may even struggle to stay alive. Entrepreneurs in Ganta have often blamed the situation of uncertainty on the exchange rate.
SPEAKING TO OUR NIMBA County Correspondent, the head for the Association of Ganta Foreign Exchanger Union, Napoleon Dean, confirmed the continued hike of the exchange rate and he accused Guinean businessmen, whom he said are the ones coming in their numbers to buy at higher rates.
ACCORDING TO HIM, these Guineans crossover into Liberia and transact their businesses and when they have obtained the Liberian dollar, use it to purchase at very higher rate the US dollars and take it back with them to Guinea. The head of the Ganta forex union also blamed the city’s business community for the increase of the US rate in the city.
THE POROUS BORDER does not just open a corridor for these illegal transactions by these suspected Guineans, it is the insipidity of our Macroeconomic policies that are creating said crippling effects. And we ardently frown on the lackadaisical and wait-and-see approach that is ridiculously hurting our economy and we think unless the problem is dealt with sincerely, everything about controlling the hike in the US exchange is destined to crumble.
ACTION IS NEEDED to deal with the ongoing Ganta situation. Action is needed now! We cannot allow our economy to be manipulated in a rather ridiculous manner and just sit and watch.
IS THE GOVERNMENT GOING to continue the medieval lesser faire theory by waiting until the Guineas take over Ganta by controlling the forex exchange market; depreciate our local currency and cripple our striving Liberian businesses? It is a hard time that we take some commonsensical actions to speedily deal with this situation.
WE HAVE HEARD about several new policies approaches the government is embarking upon. The Executive Mansion recently announced several policies including executive orders; however, the impact is still farfetched. These new policies are aimed at alleviating some constraints impeding foreign direct investors already in the country. The objective, we surmise, is to rekindle the confidence of major concessions and make the country investor friendly. We think this is a good move only if it is void of the usual corruptions and bottlenecks.
Just Last Week the government admitted that complaints have been pouring in from development partners about the country’s wage bill, and Finance Minister Samuel Tweah added that the government has recognized the need to harmonize the payroll in order to have a rationalized wage regime. In addition to that, he said, the Technical Economic Management Team and the Ministry of Finance is working around the budget to achieve expenditure rationalization.
WHILE WE await THESE POLICIES to translate into tangibles and impact Liberians, we called on the government to solve what might be considered the small issues that eventually become threats to the economy. No doubt, the Ganta situation is one example.
We suggest that the Ministry of Finance and the titular Technical Economic Management Team or TEMT wake up, smell the coffee, and take pragmatic actions. We are a country that should be run by proactive leaders, not individuals subscribing to partisanship as a means of amassing ill-fated wealth.
The case of Ganta is akin to CAPITAL FLIGHT, a situation that has been a thorn in our flesh – an enigmatic problem that might never be solved. And so, to ignore this emerging problem happening in Ganta is tantamount to deepening the already cataclysmic economic woes.