A major challenge faced by the George Weah Administration is the depreciation in the value of the Liberian dollar which adversely impacts the prices of basic commodities. This is the first time in Liberia that the exchange rate of the Liberian dollar to the US dollar has climbed as high as LD$160.00 to US$1.00.
In fact, the rise in the exchange rate appears to be on the increase daily, thus breeding much public anxiety. The most vexing issue facing people amidst the economic crisis is transportation and that is determined by the price of gasoline and fuel.
At most filling stations in Monrovia, a gallon of gasoline is sold for LD$535 while diesel fuel is sold for LD$545. Some vendors selling on sidewalks also sell a gallon of gasoline for LD$575 in some places.
This leaves drivers with no option but to increase fares of transportation in consonance with the reality of the day in order to meet their daily quotas. But what happens to the ordinary people by whom a government is popularly elected?
These are the people whose support and votes our politicians including the President, Senators and Representatives canvassed for unceasingly. The people voted them in power, expecting them to make things better.
But amid growing economic hardships, hopes appear to be fast fading that their leaders can indeed make things better. There are, however, a number of factors experts and observers say are responsible for the current economic decline.
Dr. Somah Paygai, vice president for administration at the African Methodist Episcopal University and former chairperson of the National Investment Commission (NIC), observes that the “abrupt increased supply of the Liberian dollar on the market” is one of the main factors responsible for the depreciating rate of the local currency.
Paygai further said most commodities are priced in US dollars, thus creating an unusually high demand for it. On the other hand, those with little or no knowledge of Economics are of the view that previous and current administrations have failed to control prices of commodities and fares of transportation in the country — thereby leaving business people to arbitrarily fix prices of goods and services.
Additionally, there have been recent reports of arrest of Nigerian nationals and others with huge amounts of counterfeit dollars, while some Fulani traders are said to be refusing the Liberian dollar.
As we have repeatedly stated in a number of editorials, this government assured Liberians that it knew the problems that they were going to encounter, and was prepared to bring a change to positively impact the citizens.
During their campaign for office, members of the Coalition for Democratic Change conveyed the impression that they were going to improve the living standard of Liberians as quickly as possible.
Now is the time more than ever to do so since the CDC holds the reins of power. We therefore call on the CDC-led Government to consult as widely as possible to find solutions to the economic problems facing the country. And lest we become remiss, Government officials should avoid too much loud but empty talk and get down to the real business of governing.