Liberia: Why Sen. Conmany Wesseh Went against the CPP’s Mandate on Printing of New Banknotes
MONROVIA – A National Executive Committee (NEC) member of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Senator Conmany B. Wesseh has justified why he signed a draft resolution on the printing of L$48 billion by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), in the wake of mounting concerns being expressed by some of his colleagues from the opposition CPP on the failure of the Senate to thoroughly scrutinize and debate the report submitted on the L$4billion previously printed by the George Manneh Weah-led government.
The CPP comprises the former ruling Unity Party (UP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), All Liberian Party (ALP), and the Liberty Party (LP).
Last Wednesday, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate, during its extraordinary session presided over by Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, took the decision to print a new family of Liberian dollars banknotes following the submission and subsequent debate on a report from a specialized Ad-Hoc Committee setup.
The Plenary is the highest decision-making body of the Senate.
Senator Wesseh, who is representing the people of River Gee County in the 54th National Legislature, was one of those part of the five-member specialized committee setup by the Senate to scrutinize the draft resolution from the House to reflect the views of Senators following a debate on the matter.
Few CPP lawmakers including Senators Abraham Darius Dillon, Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, Jonathan Boyle Charles Sogbie, Daniel Naatahn of Montserrado, Grand Bassa, River Gee and Gbarpolu Counties respectively, voted against the mandate because, they believe that their concerns were not address by the Executive Branch of Government.
But speaking in an interview with Women TV in Monrovia over the weekend, Senator Wesseh claimed that all of the concerns raised by his colleagues from the CPP were captured in the committee’s report submitted.
What the Senate did
Senator Wesseh pointed out that there were “fundamental differences” in the draft resolution which emanated from the House of Representatives.
According to him, members of the Liberian Senate made “so many changes” in the draft document forwarded to them by their colleagues.
He added that the differences made by Senators now compelled both the House of Representatives and the Senate to form a conference committee to submit a Joint Resolution to their respective plenaries.
“There is no conference committee report at all. What we did in the Senate was to look at the draft that came from the House. In our own debate in the Senate, many issues came up. When those issues came up, we decided that we should setup a special Ad-Hoc Committee that will take into consideration all of the issues that were raised by members of the Senate across political lines”.
Senator Wesseh pointed out that the committee met and “interjected, included and took account of all of the accounts that were universally agreed upon” by Senators from various political parties during the debate.
Senator Wesseh, who is a member of the CPP, was one of those who signed the committee’s report for the printing of new bank notes.
His action did not go down well with some of his colleagues who questioned the rationale behind the printing of the new Liberian bank notes particularly without a thorough scrutiny of a report on the first L$4billion printed by the CDC led government, among others.
But Senator Wesseh disclosed that the key changes which among other things had to do with internal control mechanisms raised by Senators from the CPP, were included in the report.
“We wanted to have a report of the L$4billion; we didn’t say the report must be part of the resolution. And we said we will have L$4billion report on what happened to the money. And that report was presented. We all wanted to make sure that the report is there. It doesn’t mean that the report will not be further investigated”.
“To the best of my knowledge, everything we agreed upon-whether we were opposition, non-opposition, no position or ruling position-whatever the position, let’s put in the ones that were agreed upon. All of us agreed on everything. The only thing I think happened is that my colleague from River Gee was pleading that let us have the time to read the report on the L$4billion”.
He added that the Senate was already on its way for the Easter Break and as such, it was prudent that the Senators had the report on the L$4billion printed in their hands, read it and raise issues because, it would take more than six months before new money is printed when a Joint Resolution is finally signed by legislators.
“Nobody raised issue of the process of the printing. We are talking about investigation on the L$4billion; how it was utilized. It has nothing to do with the money that you are going to print now”.
Senator Wesseh maintained that Senators can investigate the report on the L$4billion, call for the prosecution and subsequent incarceration of those failing to provide clear explanations and documents on the usage of the new money printed upon their return from break or prior to the printing of the new money.
Strangulating the economy
“If you say you have a problem with what happened to the L$4billion, you must go ahead and investigate; you can prosecute, you can put people in jail for how they used that L$4billion dollar. But you cannot strangulate the economy and say until that report happens”.
No green light yet
Senator Wesseh pointed out that though the Senate has concurred with their colleagues from the House for the printing of the new Liberian bank notes, the CBL cannot go ahead to print until a Joint Conference Committee is setup by both houses.
He disclosed that a Conference Committee must be setup in keeping with the rules of both Houses as a result of the changes made by the Senate on the draft resolution from the House.
According to him, members of the Joint Conference Committee will decide or changes on the document from the Senate when the need arises, and forward same to their respective plenaries.
“If you heard that there was a concurrence even from the President Pro Tempore that is not true. We do not have a Joint Resolution. There was a resolution-as the process goes, the House of Representatives begins on everything that has to do with money issues or instruments. That’s what the constitution says. We must review what we have. It doesn’t mean that we must act only on what came from the House”.
Senator Wesseh further denied reports that the decision taken by other CPP Senators including him to endorse the committee’s report has divided the CPP Legislative Caucus.
He rejected speculations that his move to sign the resolution for the printing of the new money shows a betrayal of the trust and confidence of vast majority of the Liberian people.
Senator Wesseh, however, urged his colleagues from the opposition community to “be careful” against giving a false impressions to the public.