Liberia: ‘Elementary and Outrageous’- Fmr. House Chair on Banking, Currency Describes Printing of New Banknotes

Mr. Julius Berrean, former Chair on Banking and Currency at the House of Representatives

Monrovia – The former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, Julius Flourish Berrian, has blasted at Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) lawmaker, Acarous Moses Gray, for politicizing proposals seeking the printing of new Liberian banknotes under the administration of President George Manneh Weah.

In a statement posted on the social media recently, Representative Gray justified that the printing of new banknotes will help put smiles on the faces of civil servants (bulk of who have not taken pay for several months), for the festive season.

He lashed at those criticizing the printing of new Liberian banknotes by the Weah-administration in the midst of numerous economic challenges.

“Printing of money will also help pay our civil servants on time for the Christmas break, but you are kicking against it because you believe that if civil servants are not paid on time, they could join you in your so-called Weah must resign failed protest,” Representative Gray stated.

“See how these guys are so evil to the suffering masses,” he added.

But speaking in a telephone interview with Frontpage Africa over the weekend from the United States, former lawmaker Berrian disclosed that the justification given by the CDC lawmaker has no ‘economic backing’.

Mr. Berrian was elected during the 2011 General and Presidential Elections to represent the people of electoral district # 10 on the ticket of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), one of the parties that make up the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

He was defeated in the just ended 2017 elections by Representative Yekeh Kolubah.

He resigned from the CDC barely few weeks to the conduct of the 2017 elections.

According to him, Representative gray should remain ‘quiet’ on discussions being held on the printing of new Liberian bank notes, because he doesn’t have the technical knowhow to understand the adequate functions of money and its timely usage. 

“Hon. Gray needs to understand the econometrics associated with the printing of money. He needs to understand the dynamics when it comes to infusing money into circulation-He needs to understand the proper functions of money and what money is at a particular time,” he stated.

“For Hon. Gray to say we need to print money to pay civil servants, I think it’s outrageous and elementary. I believe that he doesn’t understand; he lacks the technical knowhow when it comes to the subject matter of the printing of money,” Mr. Berrian maintained.

Gray’s economic theory remains questionable

The economic reliance of Representative Gray’s justification for the printing of new Liberian bank notes under the administration of President George Manneh Weah appears to be from another planet.

The former CDC lawmaker questioned his former colleague over his latest assertions.

“There is nothing economical about Gray’s statement; there is no economic theory that states that. I am still searching today to find out which theory states that,” he asserted.

“Which theory says that when there is a shortage of money and you cannot get money to pay civil servants, you should print additional money? There is no economic theory to back his argument. Economically speaking, that argument cannot hold water. It is the 18th economic theory he wants to bring in,” he maintained.

Mr. Berrian wants Representative Gray to remain mute on issues relative to the printing of new money. 

He added: “I think his assertions were improper; and it has no economic backing. I believe that he lacks the technical knowhow. I am of the opinion that he should have kept quiet and left it with the technicians to comment.”

Post disappearance

Representative Gray was compelled to take down his previous post justifying the essence of printing new Liberian bank notes barely a day after he posted.

The lawmaker received lot of criticism from barrage of his legislative colleagues and others, including River Gee County Representative Francis Dopoh, and Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon.

Following numerous criticisms, the CDC lawmaker’s post was replaced.

“Oppositions wishing the government downfall put the spins on my posts. We will print additional money, get the mutilated, faked, and looted ones off the market. The banks will now have good money and our people will be paid. We will subsequently change the money. The thieves will account,” Gray posted.

But Mr. Berrian observed that the sudden disappearance of the CDC lawmaker’s previous post implies that he has “repented” for wrongly attributing the printing of new money to the payment of civil servants salaries.

“What will Hon. Gray say such a thing? But anyway, after his assertions, he brought his post down. It shows that he has repented from what he said. My colleague erred. 

Ways forward for printing new banknotes

The former CDC lawmaker wants government to be more technical than political in finding means to either print new money or change the current currency being used in Liberia.

He noted that economic technicians of government should ascertain the total amount of money in circulation, and act professionally instead of politically.

According to him, the security implications associated with the printing of new Liberian banknotes must also be taken into consideration by the relevant authorities and technicians of government. 

Former Representative Berrian added that the demands for the printing of new money must also be established, to avoid money being printed just to be in the pockets of people.

He noted that the printing of new Liberian banknotes will place more financial and economic burdens if the right steps are not followed or ignored.

“I am baffled about the printing of additional money or new money. When you print additional money, you are only trying to add to the number of monies that is in circulation. When you print new money, you are trying to get rid of the old currency that is in circulation.” he stated.

“What is the quantity of money in circulation? We need to know the amount of money now on the market; and what portion needs to be changed. Those things are the basics of printing money,” the former Montserrado County lawmaker added.

Mr. Berrian maintained that it is not time for the government to ensure the printing of new banknotes.

According to him, the government should ascertain whether or not there are shortages of the Liberian dollars on the market, or banks are creating artificial shortages of the local currency. 

“We don’t print money because we don’t have money in our pockets or because we want to pay people. To supply money into circulation is much more technical than political. I feel that the printing of new money now is not timely,” he noted.

Former lawmaker Berrian furthered: “We should get back to the drawing board; let’s understand what is upholding with the first amount of money we had first. Are we experiencing a shortage or artificial shortages? We will get back to the same old story if those challenges are not resolved.”

No regret for printing new money in 2017

Former Representative Berrian was the Chairman of the House of Representative Committee on Banking and Currency during the printing of the controversial L$16 billion few months to the expiration of the second term of ex-Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

As chairman of the Joint Committee on Banking and Currency, Ways, Means and Finance, and Judiciary set up by the House Plenary to investigate a request from the Executive for the printing of new banknotes, Mr. Berrian’s justification provided during a debate on the committee’s report satisfactorily convinced his colleagues to hastily endorse the report recommending the printing of the new money.

Mr. Berrian said he has not regret for supporting the printing of new money at the time.

According to him, the decision was intended to get rid of mutilated banknotes on the local market at the time.

“I did not give any authorization to print L$16 billion, no. We were cognizant at the time; looking at the economic situation and mutilated banknotes on the local market. We gave approval for the printing of L$5, but the Central Bank got a mandate from the Executive to print L$16 billion. The former CBL Governor even admitted when he went for hearing at the Legislature. And so, I have no regret for what I did at the time,” he amongst other things stated.