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Inflation: Traders in Ghana Shut Down Shops, Protest Over Failing Currency

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Traders in Ghana have shut down shops to protest over the decline in the country’s currency as inflation continues to surge.

Earlier this month, the Ghanaian cedi was reported as the worst-performing currency in the world after it lost 45.1 percent of its value to the US dollar this year.

HAS Bloomberg report noted that the country’s currency, the cedi, depreciated by more than 30 percent since the beginning of the year as Ghana struggles to check skyrocketing prices caused partly by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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The country’s inflation rate surged past its 21-year record high in August as its annual inflation rate climbed to 37.2 percent in September from 33.9 recorded in August 2022. The surge in inflation continues despite the emergency meeting held by the bank of Ghana in August raising its benchmark interest rate to a record-high of 22 percent.

In June, Ghanaians took to the streets to protest the price surge and the high cost of living, which prompted the Ghanaian government in July to initiate a 15 percent cost of living allowance for civil servants in the country.

However, such didn’t yield any positive results as traders in the country have once again hit the street in a response to the soaring inflation and consequently high cost of doing business by locking their shops in a three-day protest as they fear that there is no end in sight to their plight.

According to reports, the combined effects of high inflation, exchange, and interest rates in the country, have “deeply eroded” business owners’ capital by over 50% this year, as many business owners are also finding it difficult to repay their loans.

A merchant in the country said, “Prices and import duty have risen due to cedi depreciation and dollar appreciation. So, importers find it difficult to import items due to the hikes in duty and customers no longer come in.”

Also, Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) union via a statement, has disclosed the protest as a strategic move that will send a signal to the government of how displeased they are.

The statement reads in part, “The government should listen to the plea of ​​these businesses, though the private sector is also one of the backbones of the economy. We employ most of the young people in the system, okay? If I am able to employ one or two guys in my shop at the end of the day I have taken some people off the street, you understand?

so government should implement policies that will also cushion us for our businesses to grow while looking at other alternatives to also grow the economy. If government grows the economy and our businesses grow there will not be all of these”.

Expressing their anger, some traders in the Ashanti Region booed the Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo while he went to inspect some government projects.

In a bid to cushion the effect of inflation and prevent the currency from falling further, Ghana’s central bank has raised its benchmark lending rate by 10 percentage points this year to 24.5 percent in a bid to tame price growth. However, it has continued to increase borrowing costs for traders.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has started talks with Ghana over a deal and last month an official at the IMF disclosed that they will meet an agreement with the West African country before the year ends.