Liberia: Nimba County Lawmaker Reveals Resolution for New Banknotes is Set for Approval

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Nimba County’s District #7 Representative Roger S.W.Y. Domah

Monrovia – Nimba County’s District #7 Representative Roger S.W.Y. Domah has revealed that a resolution authorizing the printing of new ‘family’ banknotes to replace the legacy banknotes is expected to be approved by the Legislature during this current extraordinary sitting.

The 54th Legislature, upon the request of President George M. Weah is currently convening a seven-day special sitting that commenced on Tuesday to “discuss and act upon matters of national concern.”

Chief among these matters of national concerns include a number of ‘priority bills’ that are submitted by the President to the Legislature for enactment into law, confirmation of top presidential appointees including the Executive Governor designate of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

Because discussions concerning the possibility of printing new or additional banknotes have been held behind closed doors or executive sessions, the public has not been adequately informed about the process.

This has fueled series of speculations from the media and the public with some claiming that a resolution has already been approved for the printing of new banknotes. 

There were also reports that new banknotes have already been printed and is being imported into the country.

However, Rep. Domah, talking on wide range of national issues in a press conference at his Capitol Hill’s offices on Thursday, disclosed that a resolution authorizing the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print a new ‘family’ banknotes to replace the existing legacy banknotes has attained the required two-third signatures of members of the House.

The resolution, according to him, was drafted by the House Committee on Banking and Currency and is expected to be placed on the agenda to be forwarded to the Liberian Senate for concurrence soon.

The move to print new currency, according to the Nimba District #7 lawmaker, was necessary owing to the current economic crisis and the justification given by the Government.

“We all experience the difficulties when we go to the banks. People make their deposit and they are not receiving it. Civil servants’ salaries are deposited at the banks but they are not getting their pay. Even people from the private sector who are keeping their money in the banks are not receiving their money to pay employees. So, the whole thing is becoming chaotic,” he said.

“If the government feels that the solution is to print new money, I don’t think we should stand in the way. But the only concern I have is that those of us who are in the Legislature should ensure that the enabling environment is provided so that when the money is printed, we cannot experience the same thing that we experienced when the L$16 billion [Liberian dollars] was printed.”

What’s In The Resolution?

Copies of the resolution have not been released to the public or discussed in open session, but Rep. Domah stated that the version he signed was “good and well written.”

It can be recalled President Weah in September this year sought the indulgence of the Legislature to approve the printing of new banknotes in the tone of L$35 billion.

The banknotes, the President proposed, should include both 1,000 and 500 denominations.

However, Rep. Domah said the House, in the resolution called for the printing of L$30 billion and rejected the inclusion of 1,000 and 500 denominations.

In addition, he noted the Legislature is calling for the restructuring of the CBL. Also parts of the resolution called for the CBL to submit the profile of the would-be contracted currency firm to the Legislature for review, as well as submission of specimen of the banknotes to the Legislature for approval before mass printing.

These conditions, he added are intended to avoid the controversies and shortcomings that were marred by the printing of the L$15 billion in 2017. 

Speaking further, He stressed the Executive should abide by all terms and conditions that will be approved by the Legislature in the resolution. 

He said: “I think the conditions set in it [resolution] are good and if this Government is going to print this money in good faith, it must ensure that the conditions set in the resolution are met.  We are not just giving them a blanket endorsement. We don’t want after the process there will be a conflict between the Legislature and the Executive because of the way they will proceed.  They should be able to respect the conditions that will be set by the Legislature.”

“If the government feels that the solution is to print new money, I don’t think we should stand in the way. But the only concern I have is that those of us who are in the Legislature should ensure that the enabling environment is provided so that when the money is printed, we cannot experience the same thing that we experienced when the L$16 billion [Liberian dollars] was printed.”

– Nimba County’s District #7 Representative Roger S.W.Y. Domah

‘Legislature should Take Lead in Promoting Transparency’

Meanwhile, The Nimba District #7 Representative has called on the Legislature to take the lead in promoting transparency and accountability to create public trust.

Addressing wide range of national issues in his press conference, Rep. Domah called on the leadership of the Legislature to “set the stage for the Executive and Judicial branches to follow.”

The House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Bhofal Chambers has come under increasing criticisms for conducting most of its activities in secret.

A group of Legislative reporters and concerned individuals who usually cover the proceedings of the House’s plenary, speaking to FrontPageAfrica earlier this year, complained about the frequent secret sessions that are sanctioned by Speaker Chambers.

This, reporters said makes their work difficult as they cannot be briefed after the closed-door meetings.

Rep. Larry Younquoi (Nimba District #8) has continuously cautioned his colleagues from always shielding major national discussions that have no security implication from the public as it creates rooms for speculations that often lead to misinformation.

Rep. Domah, who also serves as the Secretary General of the Unity Party Legislative Caucus on Thursday, cautioned that conducting the affairs of the House in secrecy “breeds ground for corruption.”

“We at the legislature need to be patriotic. We don’t go to seek public offices to make business or to just look for self-gains. In this time where we find ourselves in crisis, I think we should all put up the spirit of patriotism and nationalism to ensure that we find solution for the Liberian people instead of just looking out for ourselves.” he said.

He continues: “In this light, I think it is about time that the Legislature takes the lead in promoting transparency in our governing system. For those of us who have oversight responsibilities to do everything in hiding, if we are not transparent, then I think what we are doing is breeding grounds for corruption in our governing system.”

He called on the civil society to begin closely following the activities of the Legislature in a bid to “put our feet to the fire’ to work in the interest of the Liberian people,’ adding lots of things are not open up, the leadership has to open up now.”

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