Liberia’s Defiant Ones: Meet the Lawmakers Who Rejected Printing of New LD4Billion Banknotes

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VOTING WITH THEIR CONSCIENCE: “I boycotted because my conscience has not led me to printing additional banknotes in the absence of full accountability for the missing LD16 billion and the US$25 million mop-up money; the Liberian people are smart; they are watching the things we do with their money.”
– Rep. Jay Nagbe Sloh, Unity Party, District No. 2, Sinoe County


Monrovia – With the Central Bank of Liberia poised to order the printing of new Liberian dollar banknotes, a few members of the lower house of Liberia’s national legislature stood their ground as majority of their peers gave the greenlight this week for the printing of new money on the heels of the missing LD scandal.


Rep. Jay Nagbe Sloh (Unity Party, Sinoe District No. 2) told FPA Thursday that only a handful of the members of the lower house rejected the request to print more money.

Said Rep. Sloh: “Majority of the House members signed a resolution, authorizing the Executive to print L$4 billion.”

Conscience Inspired Boycott

Rep. declined to confirm or deny reports that each of the signatories to the resolution received a signature fee of US$5,000 but defended his vote. “I boycotted because my conscience has not led me to printing additional banknotes in the absence of full accountability for the missing LD16 billion and the US$25 million mop-up money; the Liberian people are smart; they are watching the things we do with their money.”

Besides Rep. Sloh, Crayton Duncan (Unity Party, Sinoe District 1), Vicent Willie (Independent, Grand Bassa, District No. 4), Thomas Goshua (Unity Party, District No. Grand Bassa County), Yekeh Koluba (Independent, District No. 10, Montserrado) Rastolyn Suacoco Dennis (Liberia Transformation Party, District No. 4, Montserrado County), Larry Yanquoi (ANC, District No. 8, Nimba County), Richard Nagbe Koon(Unity Party, Montserrado County, District No. 11)Alex Poure(National Union for Democratic Progress, District No. 1, River Gee County), Richard Koon(Unity Party, Montserrado County, District No. 11) and Dr. George B. Samba(Independent, District No, 12, Montserrado County).

Late last week, the CBL issued a statement, assuring the public and its international partners that, following the approval by the Legislature authorizing the Bank to print L$4.0 billion Liberian dollars to ease the liquidity situation in the country, the procurement process relating to the printing, shipment and delivery of the money will be implemented in conformity with transparent, accountable and credible procedures as well as in strict adherence to national laws, internal regulations and acceptable professional practices and standards.

This has bolstered by the United States Aid for International Development statement Thursday that it is partnering with the CBL, in coordination with the Government of Liberia and international partners, to sign off on a technical assistance program.

According to the statement, the aim of the technical assistance program is to assist the CBL to more effectively perform its core functions of managing the Liberian currency and creating the necessary monetary stability for broad-based, inclusive economic growth. Given Liberia’s current liquidity situation, in which Liberians are having difficulties acquiring sufficient Liberian dollars (LD) and with many of the LD banknotes in circulation mutilated, the Central Bank of Liberia has determined that at least a limited amount of additional LD banknotes is needed to support the Liberian banking system and its customers — ordinary Liberians who need to pay for school, healthcare, and other essentials.

While the CBL has been toeing the line on the issue, explaining that the decision to print Liberian dollar banknotes is in accordance with Parts II & V of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Act of 1999, skeptics are not sure. Many have been critical of the decision to print new money when the recommendations of both the USAID-backed Kroll and Presidential Investigative Team report have not been carried out.

The CBL however says, the provisions under which it is proceeding, grants it, upon approval by the National Legislature, to print and issue Liberian dollar banknotes in the economy.

Mutilated Banknotes Prompts New Printing, Says CBL

For Liberia, political observers say the lack of transparency and accountability in the voting process in the national legislature is allowing many elected officials to take their constituents for granted, often making promises they can’t keep to the detriment of those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Looking to explain recent social media uproar regarding the photographs of plane bringing in money at the Roberts International Airport, the CBL insists that the printing, shipment and delivery of banknotes, which are usually guided by standard procedures, are normal operation of all central banks across the world.

The bank explains that the printing of Liberian dollar banknotes has been triggered by the lingering liquidity squeeze in the financial sector, potentially arising from the mismatch between fixed stock of Liberian dollars in the economy over the last three years and the high Liberian dollar liquidity demand.

This demand, according to the CBL is also largely explained by the increasing volume of mutilated Liberian dollar banknotes, the introduction of a surrender policy on remittances of foreign exchange, increased collections of duties/taxes in Liberian dollars. “Other demand factors include the spiraling inflation that is fueling more need of spending in Liberian dollars, perennial lack of bank branches in few counties to mobilize deposits in Liberian dollars, and the demographic effects of newer age groups entering the labor force, thus inducing demand for Liberian dollars. As a lender-of-resort of Liberian dollar, the CBL has the responsibility to ensure the smooth operations of the financial sector and effective implementation of monetary policy to support the economy at large, with the aim of promoting macroeconomic stability.”

The bank says ongoing reform will hopefully convince Liberians that the upcoming process will be transparent and accountable. “The CBL reassures the public of its commitment to strengthening its internal processes, as part of the much-needed reform of the Bank. The CBL shall work with international audit experts, with the objective of improving the cash control management and internal audit function of the Bank, as well as ensuring corrections of Internal controls.”

Transparency Lacking in Tallying, Recording Votes

The CBL hopes that businesses and the Liberian populace would be encouraged to be receptive to non-cash means of payments for transactions. “The CBL believes that liquidity pressures can be eased with the general acceptability of electronic modes of payments, such as mobile money, and points of sale (PoS) terminals. The use of digital payments provides efficient benefits to the economy, including economizing future cost of currency printing, countering money laundering and terrorist financing, strengthening efficiency of revenue mobilization and accelerating financial inclusion. Local and international investors are encouraged to bring their innovations to the fore by investing in financial digitization and the overall digitization of the Liberian economy.”

While many have embraced Liberia’s bourgeoning transitioning democracy, the lack of transparency and accountability regarding how elected officials vote on key issues have been lacking.

FrontPageAfrica had to rely on information from the clerk’s office to come up with the list of those who voted for or against the printing of new money.
A similar debate followed the decision by the legislature to impeach former Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh.

A state of an equipment along with a public address system, donated to the legislature in 2010 by the World Bank and the National Democratic Institute, in a bid to bolster transparency in the legislative branch and also allow the legislature to keep records of how its members voted on particular issues, remains a lingering mystery.

A similar machine is used on the floor of the US Congress where votes are compiled through the electronic voting machine by the House Tally Clerks under the direction of the Clerk of the House. In the Senate floor, votes are compiled through the Senate Legislative Information System by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate.

For Liberia, political observers say the lack of transparency and accountability in the voting process in the national legislature is allowing many elected officials to take their constituents for granted, often making promises they can’t keep to the detriment of those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.

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