The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Milton A. Weeks, yesterday visited the headquarters of the Concerned Liberian International Business Organization (COLINBO) and assured members of the grassroots business organization of the Bank’s commitment to the development of Liberian owned businesses. Governor Weeks said his visit to COLINBO’s head office on Water Street on Monday is an acquaintance visit intended to build a stronger relationship with its leadership and members.
COLINBO is a grassroots business organization with 100 percent Liberian membership having chapters across the country. “I thank and appreciate COLINBO for receiving me at their head offices,” said Governor Weeks. “I have observed them for many years and I appreciate their efforts and contribution to the economy.”
The CBL boss reaffirmed his commitment to the development of Liberian own businesses and urged the leadership of COLINBO to come up with specific plans of what they want, including their challenges.
“We are currently reviewing some of the policies aimed at supporting Liberian-owned businesses; and by doing so, the CBL as the monetary arm of the government will be working with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), which is the fiscal arm of the government, to achieve our overarching goals of developing and supporting a vibrant domestic private sector driven by Liberian-owned businesses,” said Governor Weeks.
He also called for more dialogue between the COLINBO and CBL officials in order for the Bank to fully acquaint itself with some of its challenges for possible assistance, if need be.
“We at the CBL are fully aware of the need to support Liberian-owned businesses because we know that income generated by these businesses remains right in the country,” Governor Weeks stated.
Speaking earlier, COLINBO’s spokesman W. Ohato James welcomed Governor Weeks to the head office and appealed to the CBL boss for support in the areas of easy access to finance and capacity building, mainly human resource development.
Mr. James also appealed to the CBL boss to admit COLINBO into the CBL’s auction scheme, adding that a good number of COLINBO’s members have lost their businesses due to the lack of affordable foreign exchange to import goods.
“COLINBO is losing huge number of its members from the business arena because we don’t have access to the CBL foreign exchange auction program at the moment. We are appealing to you to please admit COLINBO because the exchange rate outside the CBL auction is about L$94.00 to US$1.00, which is a high-price for our people,” James noted.
Also speaking, COLINBO’s vice president Mr. Freeman S. Yattoh urged Governor Weeks to help COLINBO move to another level.
“We are interested in producing and selling our own goods; and this is why we need you to help us grow to the level of investing in the manufacturing sector,” said Mr. Yattoh.
In his response to the foreign exchange auction issue raised by the COLINBO officials, Governor Weeks promised to ensure that COLINBO is admitted into the CBL auction program. He, however, informed the business organization of the reduction in the country’s foreign exchange earnings due largely to the slowdown in the country’s export earnings.
“We will find a way out, but the prices of Liberia’s chief export commodities iron ore and rubbers have dwindled on the world market,” he added.
For his part, COLINBO’s President, Mr. Fumba Trawally, thanked Governor Weeks for the acquaintance visit and assured the CBL boss of his organization’s preparedness to contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of the Liberian economy through business.
“We appreciate you wholeheartedly for coming, and that your presence here under the rain this morning has given us further encouragement to collaborate and work with your administration to help develop Liberian own businesses. As you have already heard, COLINBO is a grassroots business organization that has its membership drawn from the lowest segment of the economy. So we are looking forward to the CBL support in the areas of access to finance and capacity building, among others,” said Mr. Trawally.
The COLINBO president is also the CEO of the National Toiletries of Liberia and a number of other businesses, including the Kumba Bendu Stores.