Liberia: Economic Management Team ‘Unable’ to Explain State of Economy to Senators

Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah

Monrovia – Tough-talking Senator from Grand Cape Mount County, Varney Sherman, says the current state of the economy is too alarming for the Economic Management Team to be toying with.

Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]

The Senate on Tuesday had a public hearing in which the Economic Management Team was expected to explain to Plenary the status of the economy, how the US$25 million reportedly used to mop out excess Liberian dollar from the economy was disbursed and its performance and also provide details of the L$16 billion reported to be missing.

The team was also expected to provide adequate report on the price rates of basic commodities set by the Commerce Ministry.

To the dismay of the Senators, the team, headed by Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, presented a three-page document with graphs that only attempts to explain the utilization of the US$25 million and its performance.

This didn’t go down well with the Senators who have asked the team to reappear next Tuesday, November 13 with a comprehensive report on the state of the economy and the L$16 billion saga.

“I have been here for the past four years and I don’t remember us having public hearing and anything good come out of it. Why? Because the people who come to talk to us give us generalities and no decision can be made by us. The status of this economy is very serious. We call our experts here – people who’re supposed to advise us – and they come and talk to us from the top of their heads… How can you expect me to understand the status of the economy on three pages,” Cllr. Sherman said.

Earlier on, Nimba County Senator, Thomas Grupee, raised concern over why Minister Tweah would be speaking on such an important topic from the top of his head and not from prepared text, taking into consideration the severity of the matter.

However, Min. Tweah apologized for not making reference to the summary compiled by the team but said copies had been made available for members of the Senate. Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence described the three-page report presented as unprofessional, far below standard and does not fall within the ambit of best financial practice.

“You’re reporting on US$25 million that was given to the Finance Ministry or had to work Central Bank in the interest of the country, I see a list here of how the money was distributed, I do not see any list of any financial institution or business that the money was given to, where did it go?” she asked.

Bong County Senator Henrique Tokpah inquired from the team their fiscal policy they intend to introduce to stabilize the economy.

“Concurrently, what you’re talking about here is monetary policy, I’m also interested in the fiscal policy – what kind of fiscal intervention are you contemplating with regards to taxes, with regards to other instruments to infuse in the economy to stabilize it. If you just infuse huge amount of money in the economy there will be shocks and we all are aware of that, so what sort of strategy will you introduce to mitigate that shock?” he asked.

On the issue of the ‘missing’ billions, the Senators look forward to understanding whether the 16 billion was actually printed, under whose mandate, and whether or not it was received by the Central Bank of Liberia.

The Economic Management Team comprises the Central Bank Governor, Nathaniel Patray, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, Commerce Minister, Wilson Tarpeh and Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority, Thomas Doe Nah.