Presidential aspirant, Cllr. Tiawon S. Gongloe is worried that the Liberian people have already endured enough hardship that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the recent hike in the exchange rate in United States dollars would exacerbate their impoverished conditions.
Extreme poverty has befallen Liberians since the ascendency of George Weah to the presidency, Gongloe said, a claim that is corroborated by partners such as the World Bank, UNDP that indicate that more Liberians have fallen below the poverty line, and more children have dropped out of school compared to years before 2018.
The Liberian People’s Party political leader told a recent press conference that the living conditions of the masses are about to worsen further due to the sharp increase in the exchange rate, which would subsequently lead to a hike in the prices of goods and services.
“CDC government officials who are contesting in the upcoming elections have begun to dump huge quantities of Liberian dollar banknotes on the market, and this is why we have started experiencing a hike in the exchange rate. This will affect our already poor people who [cannot afford food] to eat,” he said. “The government is involved in illegal campaign financing, and this is hurting our people.”
The exchange rate has been 1 USD to 150 LRD for over two years until lately, when the rate began surging. It is currently 1 USD to 168 LRD, or a little more in other places.
Economically, Gongloe said, what is happening now is terrible for Liberia, and between now and the elections, life is going to get much more difficult than Liberians had ever imagined.
“This is because officials of the CDC government who are contesting for public offices have stolen so much money and they are dumping it in the market. They are dumping the Liberian dollars on the market and keeping the United States Dollars,” Cllr. Gongloe said.
He revealed that officials of the Weah government are saving the United States dollars because they are not too sure of winning the election.
“As someone who is aspiring to lead this country, I have to be listening, seeing, and taking notes of good and bad things, especially those things that affect the lives of the people on a daily basis. I am also an economist and a lawyer. I am the only presidential aspirant who has the qualification. I taught both economics and Law at the University of Liberia, so I know what I am saying’’ Cllr. Gongloe noted.
He said that Liberians can’t wait to see the CDC out of power because of the reckless disregard and insecurity shown to citizens and their plight.
Cllr. Gongloe noted that he predicted a few weeks ago that the rate was going to reach 170 LRD, and it has happened with the buying rate in some places now at 176 LRD.
“These kinds of things, where prices are going up, are causing hopelessness and despair. This is contrary to the hope the CDC promised the Liberian people. These are the things that some of us are looking at. We can’t have a better Liberia in this type of recklessness and insensitivity to the plight of the citizens.
“Those who import goods in this country, who are bringing goods from China and other places, need United States dollars to import, and so they have to buy United States dollars from the market. The negative effect of that is that prices will go up for essential commodities like gasoline, fuel, and oil among others. We are going to have transportation costs go up, including school fees. Why is CDC doing this kind of thing to the country?” Cllr. Gongloe argued.
He described the situation as “complete wickedness and recklessness”, noting that the CDC government came to power on the slogan of “Change for Hope” and so this kind of situation, where prices are going up, is a change for hopelessness that is contrary to their promise.
“The government in power is showing reckless disregard for the welfare of the Liberian people. Human suffering is becoming unbearable. The only way this can stop is to peacefully remove this government,” he said. “This government does not deserve a day beyond its legitimate timeframe. They have done more harm than good to our country.”