The price of Liberia’s favorite beverage — beer — has risen 25% due to the continual rise in the exchange rate of the United States Dollars to that of the Liberian dollars in Ganta, Nimba County.
In Ganta, the price of a crate of beer has risen from L$1,575 (US$18.50) to L$2,000 (US$23.53); causing a bottle to be sold for L$200 (US$2.4) from L$ 150 (US$1.8). A crate of beer contains 12 bottles, each is the equivalent of one US liter.
There is also a 25% increase in the prices of crates of Guinness Stout, malta and small beer. Crates of each of these contain 24 bottles.
Stout was previously sold for L$110 (US$1.3) but is currently sold for L$140 (US$1.6).
The surprise increase came as a surprise to many club goers in Ganta over the weekend, leaving many night clubs and drink sellers without customers.
“We suspected the sharp increase in the exchange rate was the cause of the increase in drink prices; it will surely cause a problem for us,” said Kamah Kouh, a business woman in Ganta
Ganta’s busiest street seemed empty during even hours on Monday, January 20, due to a lack of money on the part of regular customers of local businesses.
The movement of goods along the border with Guinea has also decreased in recent times.
“We don’t know what is actually happening, people are not buying like before, whether it is because of the rise in the exchange rate or another reason, it’s hard to tell,” said Harrison Wongbay, a store owner in Ganta.
“Everybody is just complaining about the lack of money and the US dollar continues to rise,” said another man who was standing nearby.
Apart from the increase in prices of drinks on the market, the price of locally produced palm oil has also risen.
The Daily Observer established that the price of palm oil has gone up from L$400 (US$4.71) a gallon to L$500 (US$5.9) due to hiked transportation and petroleum cost.
One of the petit businessmen at the general market in Ganta complained, “if the US$ rate continues to rise it will surely hamper every aspect of the lives of the poor.”
“We depend on this little business we are doing to send our children to school, what happens if they are put out of school at this time for school fees?,” he wondered.
“The government doesn’t have many school facilities in Ganta to host all the students, that is why most of our children are attending private school,” he added.
However, when the Daily Observer spoke to some of the wholesale traders around Ganta they said increases in the prices came from breweries in Monrovia.
“We originally bought a crate of small beer for L$1,810 (US$21.3) from the factory, but it is now sold to us for L$2,210 (US$26). What do you expect us to do? We have to increase our prices,” said Bob Suah, a storekeeper in one of the wholesale stores in Ganta.