Run-off Election Delay Has Markets Going Slow

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Business entities encounter rise in exchange rate, prices up nationwide

As the run-off presidential election under the watchful eyes of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has encountered legal challenges, major Liberian and foreign businesses have placed a hold on the importation of goods.

A tour of several business centers in the three commercial hubs of Red-Light, Duala, and Waterside in Monrovia and Paynesville, revealed most of the stores and shops are literally becoming empty essential commodities.

At the Waterside general market vegetable section, several tables were empty and owners said they were not getting supplies from rural parts of the country.

For the Red-Light Market, many of the vegetable stalls were also empty as some of the sellers had gone in search of what to sell.

At the Duala Market on the Bushrod Island, worried vegetable businesswomen told the Daily Observer that they have waited for about two weeks and no fresh vegetables are coming from the rural parts.

“We are forced to sell at high prices the small-small vegetables and greens that we are buying from farmers in rural Montserrado to our Monrovia customers,” Madam Sarah Padmore said.

A famous Goabchop Junction Section at Redlight Market in Paynesville

A few purchasers who managed to bring to Monrovia some produce such as plantains, bananas, cassava, and eddoes told this newspaper that there is too much negative news reaching the rural parts.  To the farmers, it means the risk of sending their goods to Monrovia has increased. And though they still have to harvest and sell their produce anyway, they do so at an auction price.

Other commodities with increasing prices include but are not limited to flour and cooking oil.

A 25-kilogram bag of rice is now sold for L$1,950 or US$27; medium sized flour now sold for L$1,980 and cooking oil in a small size gallon is now sold for L$1,500. Two weeks ago, prices of the above-mentioned commodities were sold at reasonable prices. But, due to the rising foreign exchange rate, many homes and hard to reach areas are finding things difficult.

Several housewives interviewed said all rice measurement cups have been reduced or cut by retailers at the various markets.

“One month ago, my husband was giving me LD$300 for daily food but has to double it due to the hike in prices for food at the Red-Light Market,” Mrs. Mary Duncan said.

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