Nearly all the money exchange kiosks in Ganta, the commercial hub of Nimba County remained closed the whole of yesterday, leaving the foreign-exchange rate in limbo as the ‘July 26’ festive season draws near.
Money changers were seen loitering while their booths showed no exchange rate between the Liberian dollars (LRD) and the United States dollars (USD) as of yesterday, July 19.
Customers who turned out to transact with the money exchangers were disappointed for the second day in a row, since the Central Bank of Liberia announced July 18 that it would track illegal money exchangers.
“Our booths are empty, because we are still waiting to hear from CBL to come up with the exact rate,” said Peter Mendin, a money exchanger.
“What we are doing now is black deal,” said another money exchanger, suggesting that his exchange rate is off the record.
Across the city of Ganta, traders and ordinary business people were left in confusion on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, after news circulated that the CBL was going to crack down the money exchange vendors.
Because of the news, the money exchangers became frightened and locked down all their booths in fear of being arrested by CBL or the authorities for inflating the exchange rate.
The latest exchange rate was L$ 168 to US$1, something that brought outcry in the business booming city of Ganta.
The high inflation in the exchange rate is causing the prices of goods and services to skyrocket, leaving citizens wondering how it will be addressed before the school year opens in September.
Due to the lockdown of most of the booths on Wednesday, the exchange rate on the street dropped to L$100 to US$1, but shot back up on the following day, July 19, 2018, to L$150 to a US$1.
However, there is still uncertainty in Ganta and other commercial cities of when the exchange rate will be stabilized for the prices to respond accordingly.
“Things are going backward with this high rate issue,” said 80 year-old Robert Brewer.
The July 26 momentum is said to be very poor, with more goods pouring in Ganta, with less buyers, something that is blame on the poor state of economy and the high USD rate.
Commercial banks in Ganta were observed to have unusually low customer traffic for this time of year.
“Usually when season approaches like this, the banking institutions [are] very crowded with customers, but we don’t know what is happening,” said one of tellers, who do not want to be named.