Liberia: “Ivory Coast, Guinea or Ghana not Using Our Money, So Where Is Our Money Gone?” – Traders’ Wahala No Christmas Money
Monrovia – Christmas is around and ordinary Liberians are complaining “there is no money” in the country. Despite this, few places still have small crowds who are trading. Mechlin Street in Monrovia is one of those places where buyers, onlookers and thieves have gathered.
It seems the sellers are far more than the buyers. Sellers such as value boys, auction goods sellers, wheel barrow sellers and other petit traders have spread their goods on the motor roads and preventing vehicles, including kehkeh (tricycles) and motorbikes from plying.
No Money in Liberia
Florence Washington, a petit trader, who sells used book bags, is standing under the scorching sun while calling out to passersby to come and buy book bags for their kids. She sees no sign of anybody coming to ask nor to buy any; she reluctantly sits and wipes the sweat dripping down her face.
Out of frustration, she vented her anger on the government: “Just imagine school is about to open and parents are not even buying book bags for their children. At least during Ma Ellen time, when government employees used to take pay, we used to see it because money was everywhere, but now when government workers take pay we do not even feel anything because they can’t get their own money from the banks or from the ATM machines, so where are we heading?” she asked.
“Therefore, let the government postpone the Christmas because we do not know where our money has gone. Guinea, Ivory Coast and Ghana are not using our money, so where is our money going? There is no US dollars in the banks and nothing is on the market, much to talk about the Liberian dollars, besides torn bank notes. So, let the government do something to improve the economy. I voted this government into power since 2005 and 2011.”
She thinks the Liberian currency is not circulating but is only in the hands of one group of people, who are the big government ministers while the ordinary citizens are suffering.
“President [George] Weah has to stop listening to Samuel Tweah and Nathaniel McGill, because they keep lying to him and spoiling our government. Why should one group of people just be eating the country’s money and we the common people who voted Weah into power for our lives to change be suffering?” She reminded the President that he had said during his inaugural address that Liberians won’t be spectators in their own economy. She added sadly, “But we are more than spectators in our own economy. I am really disappointed in this government. I used to stand in the store and pay for three or four bails of dongar flag (used clothes) book bags, during Ma. Ellen time. But right now, I am at the bottom of poverty; I cannot even afford to buy one bail of cloth to sell,” she said.
She added that President Weah promised to bring better changes instead he has changed the country from “worse to ridiculous.”
“I want to tell Weah to change some people in his government. He told us players were on the bench to replace others, but it is over three years and we can’t see those players. Sad to say, but Ma Ellen time, was far better than President George Oppong Weah administration. We used to receive our money from the bank and even when we used to be jammed and ask our friends to borrow, they used to do lend us money, but this time, everybody is crying because no money. No money in the banks and no money in the ATM machines, can you imagine?” she stated.
Recently, the US Embassy put out an alert to US citizens traveling to Liberia to come with at least US$7,000 because there is no money in the banks and ATMs in the country do not have money to pay.
Hawa Konneh selling children’s clothes, complained about business being very slow. She opined that sellers were more than buyers.
She spends nearly L$1000 to and fro her home daily in New Georgia to come to Waterside in Monrovia, the trading center, to sell.
“Sometimes when I sell two children’s shirts and take out transportation, nothing is left with me to carry home. I come from a poor background; my parents do not have money to support me so I had to drop from school to sell because I do not have any help coming from anywhere. We need our President’s support. He needs to help us youths to do business,” she said
Cebell Kotell, who had come to buy told this newspaper that all of the things she had planned on purchasing for the holidays can’t be gotten now as the banks told her they don’t have enough money to give her the amount she needs.
“It is not good for your country to not have money. Therefore the Government should try to put things into place regarding this money business, so bankers can get their money from banks and ATM machines,” she said.
Stephen Massaquoi, a forex exchanger on Broad Street, said when the exchange rate drops or goes up, it does not affect him, because the country’s economy is determined by the Fulani and Lebanese businessmen.
He accused these foreign businessmen of sometimes holding onto the Liberian dollars.
He thinks the money isn’t circulating because these big business people are keeping the money in their various homes instead of the banks. “They prefer to keep their own money so they determine the rate. When they want the rate to drop, they hold fast to their money but as the season is coming now, they have put out the Liberian dollars because they are now buying the US dollars from the market to buy their goods. So, we cannot blame the government but the foreign business owners.”
He disclosed that more and more people are coming to them to use their mobile money service because they (people) are unable to get their money from the banks.