Liberia’s Ailing Economy & Dual Currency Debate, Where Was Speaker Bhofal Chambers Then?


LAST AUGUST, then Representative Bhophal Chambers as a member of the national legislature was part of a legislative body which signed off on a law that sought to ensure that all monetary transactions in the country be done in Liberian dollars.

LESS THAN a year later, Mr. Chambers, now speaker of the Lower House of the legislative body is singing a new song.

ADDRESSING a news conference last Friday, Speaker Chambers suggested a single currency regime for the Liberian commerce and trade, preferring an adaption of the United States dollars amidst the excruciating challenges the economy is faced with.

THE SPEAKER went on to say that the monetary control in the Liberian economy is seriously challenged by the loose availability of the two Liberian currencies in multiple styles and denomination value. Thus, suggesting that former President Sirleaf in the climaxing days of her presidency created “an economic gulag”, relating to a Soviet-style economic and militarily fashioned scenario, the purpose for compelling compliance on economic activities.

THE LEADER of the lower house went on to accuse the former President printing huge quantity by President Sirleaf regime and has flooded the economy chasing the few United States Dollars coming in the Liberian commerce and trade corridors. He says the past government was warned of printing new banknotes by the 53rd Legislature and other economic pundits, but President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf did not listen, thus contributing seriously to the present condition of the Liberian economy.

LIBERIA IS CURRENTLY a dual currency country, the U.S. dollars being the secondary, but the U.S. dollar has dominated the market, being the most demanded currency for purchases and payments, even at government entities.

PART V, SECTION 19, SUB-SECTION 1 of the acting establishment of Central Bank of Liberia, March 18, 1999, as stated shall be repealed and amended in the act will include; that monetary unit of Liberia shall be the Liberian Dollar, divided into one hundred cents.

LAST YEAR’S LAW passed by the House of Representatives states has it that the Liberian dollars shall be the sole currency of Liberia and legal tender and that prices for all transactions in Liberia Dollars shall be indicated solely in Liberian dollars and cents. The law also calls for the Liberian Dollars to be prefixed by the signs “L$” and Liberian cents shall be prefixed by sign “c”. The Lower House concluded that the Liberian currency for all Accounting, Financial Reporting and official purposes in Liberia and that the currency of the United States of America shall be legal tender in Liberia for the sole discharge of foreign public and private obligations.

TWO YEARS EARLIER, the same legislative body signed off on another bill and agreed that there was a need to print more money to fund their campaigns.

AT THE TIME, Rep. Edward Forh (Congress for Democratic Change) was booted out of session by former speaker Alex Tyler and accused of attempting to disrupt session after expressing strong view against the President’s request for the printing of new bank notes.

FORH DECLARED at the time: “We thought that by printing more money it will escalate the already depreciated Liberian dollars that has gone to the rate of LD$91 to US$1”.

THE LAWMAKER CLAIMED that he was ignored by the Speaker whenever he sought recognition to speak on the issue of printing new banknotes despite several attempts to have the Speaker recognize him to make an input on the discussion. Representative Forh had earlier resisted the order from the Speaker to leave session did leave after interventions from his colleagues.

WHERE WAS BHOPHAL CHAMBERS THEN? Did he raise his voice.

TODAY, THE RATE compared to the US dollar in a little over 160-1.

IT IS REALLY SADDENED that Speaker Chambers is finally realizing that there is a need to revisit the law he and his colleagues hurriedly passed last year.

THIS CLEARLY suggest that Speaker Chambers either lacks knowledge or understanding of the laws he and his peers rushed through the halls of the lower house with a 4-G passage or he has finally come to his senses about the emerging realities unfolding before his eyes.

THIS HAS BEEN the problem and story of Liberia, the oldest country on the African continent where members of the legislature rarely read laws before passing them, where those elected to serve spend most of their time pushing legislations for their own benefit and to the detriment of Liberia and Liberians.

MANY OF THOSE currently in the legislature were present when they all voted to endorse the former President’s request for additional banknotes because they agreed at the time that the Liberian dollar was rapidly depreciating against the United States dollars.

TODAY, IT STILL IS. What we find troubling is the repeated waste of taxpayers’ dollars on a bunch of leaders who have continued to fail and stand and be counted when it really matters for those who voted for them.

WHAT SPEAKER Chambers should be doing now is working hard to ensure that he and his peers slash their salaries in half due to the many wrong decisions and ineptitude that has now characterized the lower house.

IT IS A SHAME AND A TRAVESTY of leadership for any nation to be so unlucky to repeatedly find themselves electing a bunch of uncaring people into office, people who only care about themselves and how much extra they can generate for their pockets.

SORRY MR. SPEAKER, your latest rant falls short of anything resembling sincerity to those who elected you. You had a really good chance to stand and be counted when former President Sirleaf was in office – and when it mattered most. Blaming her after the fact, have only exposed the weakness hurting the legislative body. Thankfully, you are now the Speaker and can do those who elected you the favor of turning the tide on the trail of bad leadership and decisions you and your body have sentenced the Liberian people to for the past few years.