The sudden rise of the Guinea Franc is impeding cross-border trade in the commercial city of Ganta, Nimba County.
Petty traders, mostly women who went to the nearby market in one of the Guinean bordering towns, were shocked to learn that the Guinean franc had sharply climbed up by nearly 15% against the Liberian dollar.
“We were surprised to see the rate high up from GF 55,000 for L$1000 on Monday to GF 47,000 for L$1000,” said a young lady, who had just returned from Guinea.
The nearby Guinea market is where most market women from the nearby towns, cities and villages and as far as Gbarnga in Bong County, visit every Thursday to buy some agriculture produce, such as pepper, beans, onion, and okra.
But the sudden climbing of the Guinean Franc has caused most of the petty traders to return to Liberia empty-handed.
“The exchange rate was too high today, so I did not buy anything,” said Annie Flomo, a seller in Ganta Market.
It is not only the Liberians that suffered the setback from the inflation, the Guineans, especially the commercial drivers, were complaining how they could not get goods to transport to Liberia. “We did not get enough load to transport, because Liberians were not buying,” said a driver identified as Musa Korboy.
Many traders have put the sudden rise to the recent accusation by the commerce authority in Nimba that the Guinean money is responsible for the high inflation in the US rates on the Liberian market.
Recently, Commerce Inspector for Nimba County, Nelson Korquoi, told a radio station in Ganta that the Guineans were buying all the United States dollars in Ganta, thus affecting the exchange rate in that part of Liberia.
The inspector’s remarks apparently aggravated the money changers in Guinea, who retaliated by hiking the exchange rate on the Guinean side, causing Liberian traders stranded on the Guinean side of the border.
“The Guineans refused to exchange our Liberian dollars, because we accused them of taking our money and carrying the US dollar at the higher rate,” said Alice Yormie, one of the traders.
The Liberian Dollar began falling against the the Guinean Franc since mid 2017, when it fell from GF 100,000 for L$1000 to GF 80,000 for L$1,000.
In similar development, there is sharp increase in the prices of goods and services in Nimba. The least price for a 25kg bag of rice in Ganta is L$2,275, forcing the price of one cup to L$50. Prices of petroleum products have also increased, with a gallon of gasoline now sold for L$560 and L$620 for a gallon of diesel.
The Five Liberian dollar banknote has been totally depreciated, with nearly all locally-produced commodities sold from L$10 and up.