Liberia: LCC President Questions The Rationale Behind The Printing Of New Liberian Bank Notes
MONROVIA – As the signing of a Joint Resolution by members of the National Legislature for the printing of L$48million remain in limbo, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), through its President Bishop Kortu K. Brown has termed as a form of “gambling” the move being made by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah to print new family of Liberian currency without the submission and clear understand of a full report on the total amount of money in circulation by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).
It can be recalled that members of the Liberian Senate recently concurred with their colleagues at the House of Representatives for the Executive, through the CBL to print the amount of L$48billion in phases.
The Senators made few modifications on the decision taken by their colleagues from the lower house, something which now compels the setting up of a conference committee for both Plenaries to finally make a determination.
But speaking in an exclusive interview with FrontPage Africa at his offices in Brewerville recently, Bishop Brown questioned the rationale behind the proposal for the Liberian government to use about US$40million to print the new money.
Bishop Brown observed that there are mounting concerns within the public on the whereabouts of monies printed during the administration of ex-Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and the present regime of President George Manneh Weah.
He emphasized that there is no guarantee that the relevant authorities will “keep record or account” for the new money that the Executive intends to print.
“The real troubling aspect of the printing of the money is the fact that the Central Bank, we were told does not have any report on the total amount of bank notes on even the printing that was done during the regime of Madam Sirleaf. We don’t know the total; we are estimating and so, it’s a gamble”
“What is the guarantee that if we use US$40million dollars to print L$48billion we are going to ensure that we keep record? Now, we don’t have a record system of all the money Liberia has. So, what’s the guarantee that we will have a record of the money we want to print. Those are the concerns. What did we do with the monies that were printed before and even recently?”
Shame on CBL
Authorities of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the country’s Economic Management Team (EMT), headed by Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, have struggled to adequately propound on the total amount of Liberian bank notes presently in circulation.
They blamed local business entrepreneurs for refusing to save their monies in the banks.
They claimed that these entrepreneurs are in the constant habit of keeping their monies at their respective homes.
In some instances, some of these EMT officials flagrantly reneged on stating the exact amount in circulation in the country on grounds that the matter has a “security implication”.
But Bishop Brown blasted at authorities of the CBL for not being in the know of the exact amount of Liberian dollars currently in circulation.
“It’s a shame for Liberia’s Central Bank to not know how many money we have in circulation in the country-and the argument is that most of that money is outside of the banking sector. Where are all those records?”
He further observed that Liberia and its citizens are currently grappling with multiple economic problems.
He admitted that though those managing the country’s economy are making frantic efforts to address the situation, genuine concerns being raised by citizens on the printing of new Liberian bank notes must be addressed.
Bishop Brown added that the printing of new money is “very expensive” and as such, government should ensure that such an investment on the task is not wasted.
Play supervisory role
Bishop Brown stated that though members of both Houses have given a partial approval for the printing of the new Liberian bank notes, they (lawmakers) must now play a “supervisory role” over the entire process.
“The Legislature should help ensure that the CBL has a clear strategy as to how they will ensure that whatever money that is printed eventually can be accounted for”.
He maintained that the Council remains concerned about the issue of accountability relative to the printing of new family of Liberian bank notes.
Bishop Brown maintained that steps must be taken by legislators to ensure that authorities of the CBL do not come back with excuses to give additional reasons for the printing of more money again.
He called on lawmakers to take concrete actions to ensure that recommendations contained in investigative reports on the L$16billion printed under the Sirleaf administration, the Weah led-government US$25Million mop exercise are scrupulously implemented, and also demand a full report and explanation on the L$4billion just printed.
Bishop Brown observed that lawmakers have not been able to thoroughly deal with the “structural issues” relative to the printing of the new money.
He called on members of the Banking and Currency Committee of both Houses to ask the hard questions and conduct public hearings on speculations and doubts over the previous printing of monies before making a final determination on the printing of new Liberian bank notes.