As the Liberian dollar battles against the United States dollar, prices of goods and services continue to increase on the market.
Prices of locally produced foodstuffs have started to bite hard as housewives, restauranteurs, cook shop owners and some shopping entities are complaining of the rising prices.
“I went yesterday to the Red-Light Market to buy our weekly food and was shocked to notice prices of commodities have been stepped up by retailers,” housewife Eunice B. Morteh said.
Mrs. Esther K. Ballah, 45, a restaurant owner at the Red-Light Market told the Daily Observer that if the situation continues, many small Liberian business entities will eventually close down.
“I wish to recommend that the Central Bank of Liberia and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning should move quickly to help control the rising foreign exchange rate to beat back the current hardship,” Mrs. Ballah stressed.
The ripple effect of such sharp increases on both imported and locally produced commodities have started to seriously hurt many Liberians, especially those in impoverished communities.
Major Liberian and foreign business entities have started to complain about the serious scarcity of foreign currencies that they need to import goods.
Some entrepreneurs told the Daily Observer that because of the scarcity of foreign currencies, their commodities have remained stockpiled.
“We are really finding things very difficult to secure foreign exchange at the various exchange bureaux and even on the black market,” businessman Thomas B.K. Jallawala lamented.
Prices of imported goods have climbed so high to the detriment of ordinary Liberians, whose purchasing power is low.
A close look at the price of petroleum products at gas stations across Monrovia and the business districts of Red-Light, Duala and Waterside, reveals that they vary from one gas station to another ranging from LD$270, LD$280 to LD$285.
As for the nation’s staple food, rice, a 25 kilogram bag of imported rice, previously sold for LD$1,550, is now being sold for LD$1,650 at the various markets in Monrovia and its environs.
According to market analysts, the trickle down effect on retailers can be seen in the measuring cups reducing the quantity of rice for a small sized family in parts of Monrovia.
In a tour of flour dealers at Duala and Red-Light markets, it was observed that the small size flour bag previously sold for LD$1,300 now costs LD$1,450.
Such increases in the price of flour on the Liberian market have reduced the production capacity of bakery operators and the size of baked bread has drastically reduced at the various market places in Monrovia and elsewhere.
A Red-Light bakery operator, Francis B. Tamba, 54, said they are left with no alternative but to reduce the size of the baked bread in order to make profits and reduce the cost of production.
When contacted on Monday for comment, officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry told the Daily Observer that they will make an official statement on the increase in the prices of commodities this week.