Liberia: Counterfeiting of New Banknotes A Serious Concern for Senators
Monrovia – Senators on Tuesday debated a report from the Joint Committee on Ways, Means and Finance, Judiciary, Banking and Currency and judiciary, who reported recommending that the Senate plenary concur with the House of Representatives in giving authorization to the Central Bank of Liberia to print new feature of Liberian dollars Bank notes.
From the debate it was glaring that all Senators are in support of giving the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) authority to print new bank notes. However, their consent appears to be full of concerns and observation, which have been getting the attention by the committee members.
Senate Pro Temp Albert Chie recently set up an Ad Hoc five-member committee to review the resolution and include into all of the concerns of the Senators for further deliberation on Wednesday after which the senate is expected to conduct final deliberations before taking a final decision on whether or not to vote for the printing of new money.
The Ad hoc committee membership include; Senators Gble-gbo Brown chair, Conmany Wesseh, James Emmanuel Nuquay, Marshall Dennis and Varney Sherman. Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie and Senator Darius Dillon are Ex-officiasls on the Ad Hoc committee.
During the Senate debate several concerns were raised. Among them: what measures are being put in place by the Executive branch of government to guide against duplication, report on the infusion process of the Liberian dollars 4 billion dollars earlier printed by the CDC government and Putting in place internal control.
Senators also expressed concerns that with the inclusion of a new denomination of LD$1,000.00 (One Thousand Liberian dollars Bank notes), it could be easy for criminals to duplicate which could lead to inflation.
Senator Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County told plenary that in spite of his support to vote in favor of printing the new bank notes, he needs assurance from the Executive Branch of government as to measures to prevent the duplication of the Liberian Bank notes which could cause inflation.
Said Senator Teahjay: “I am in support of printing money but we don’t want to print money thinking we are making the right decision but creating the problem. What is the plan to prevent duplication of the bank notes if these measure are assured I will vote in favor of printing new bank notes?”
Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence(Liberty Party, Grand Bassa) also expressed concern about best practices. In her comments she said, Liberia has gone against “best practices” that guide the process of printing money because, according to her, if the authorization is given Liberia will for the third time be printing money in little over three years.
The Senator continued: “We have some concerns that have been addressed and I want to thank the committee for that. However, there also some very serious concerns if not corrected we will not vote for the Printing of money. We need to ensure internal control, system for replacing money are also of concerns. I will say to the Senate I am not convinced that we are ready to print money.”
For his Part Senator Abraham Darius Dillon echoed the need for for the Joint Resolution to print Money to requires 2/3 majority of the membership of the Senate and not simple majority because it’s a constitutional matter.
Said Senator Dillon: “We want to see policies on internal controls to restore confidence in the banking sector. No money, not a dime should be printed in elections year (2023), we want to see a system that will replace the money efficiently and effectively in all Counties and the manner the legacy banknotes would be destroyed. And want to see the Central Bank report on the 4billion that was printed a year ago and infused into the economy. Without these and other safeguards that would guarantee proper accountability and management, we will not be inclined to signing the resolution.”
The Central Bank of Liberia earlier this year informed lawmakers that it needs L$27.5 billion to stabilize the cash flow in the country as L$22.5 billion is already out of the banking sector.
The money, the CBL said it is indeed to respond to the blanket outlook of the downward trend of the economy and will buy up government debts, a move probably designed to keep borrow costs low.
“The issue of paucity of the Liberian dollars is a grave concern, and whether we need additional banknotes or we need new banknotes, the fact is we need money on the market to be infused into the economy in three years period,” said CBL Executive Governor J. Aloysius Tarlue.
The money, Governor Tarlue added, will be printed at a cost of US$21 million equivalent to about L$3.4 billion, while revealing that the recently printed L$4billion is part of L$25.3bn of which L$22.5bn is currently outside the bank.
Governor Tarlue added that the L$10 billion out the money in the banking sector is mutilated because it has lived its lifespan. Tarlue also blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the country’s present economic woes, but “stressed that the economic outlook can be redeemed certainly with printing of the new banknotes.”