Liberia: CBL Launches Awareness on Currency Reform

— As Governor Tarlue heaps praises on IMF, other partners, for technical support 

The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has officially launched a nationwide awareness campaign on the infusion of the new banknote currency into the local market.

The launch, which took place on September 1, in Gbarnga, Bong County, is aimed at educating the public about the new currency reform process that is currently ongoing.

The reform is inconsistent with the May 6, 2021, Joint Resolution of the National Legislature authorizing the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print and mint the new family of Liberian currency totalling L$48.734 billion.

CBL was also instructed to get rid of the L$10 and L$5 banknotes. The resolution states that these denominations are to be minted into coins.

“That the denomination of banknotes to be printed shall be L$20, L$50, L$100, L$500, and L$1,000, and the denominations to be minted in coins shall be L$5 and L$10,” the Joint Resolution stated.

The Legislature also gave the CBL the mandate to ensure that the printing of banknotes and minting of coins are undertaken during 2021, 2022, and 2024 to respond to future liquidity in 2024.

The Joint Resolution also mandated the CBL to put in place adequate logistics and governance arrangements, including appropriate procedures, internal controls, and compliance functions, to ensure the integrity and transparency of the currency reform process.

Additionally, the CBL’s Technical Committee for Currency Reform (TCCR) has been guided by technical advice from Kroll Associates Inc. (Kroll) (starting in March 2020) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier.

The technical support from the IMF is primarily focused on the macroeconomic implications of the currency program within the context of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), while the technical support from Kroll is focused on assisting the TCCR to assess and manage risk associated with the reform process, including procurement, design work, security, and other operational issues.

Speaking at the official launch of the campaign, CBL Executive Governor J. Aloysius Tarlue lauded development partners for their contribution and support to the government through the bank.

He noted that the international partners’ support has helped the country to maintain macroeconomic stability over the years.

Tarlue said the support provided to Liberia by the development partners including the IMF, World Bank and others, over the years is hugely recognized, especially towards the country's ongoing new currency reform process.

He said the awareness activities on the infusion of the new Liberian currency will run for seven months, beginning September 1, to the end of March 2023, with several town hall meetings planned by the bank.

Tarlue added the strategy is also intended to infuse the new currency into the market through the various commercial banks for accountability purposes.

“CBL is working with other financial institutions to ensure that the process is smooth and successful and wants to encourage the public to open accounts with various commercial banks in the country,” he said. 

Also speaking, the Chairman of Banking and Currency at the Liberian Senate, A. Marshall Dennis, said it wasn’t easy to reach this decision. However, he was glad that CBL under Governor Tarlue’s leadership and development partners for the reform process.

Dennis recalled that in Liberia there was an economic crisis ranging from the exchange rate, which he believed was not good for the country.

“So, what is happening here today is all geared towards transforming our economy and I want to thank President George M. Weah for the farsightedness he played in putting his feet on the ground to revamp our economy,” he said.

He further urged stakeholders to ensure that the new currency is well taken care of, noting that the issue of printing new money is very expensive.

The chairperson of the Bong County Legislative Caucus, Representative, Miama Briggs, further said the awareness of the new currency will provide great relief for people in that county and Liberia at large.

“I remembered a few weeks ago, a lot of people in the country were complaining about having their change after buying from the marketers. You can get your $10, 5, 20, 15, or even 500, but with this, I believe it will help our people,” she said.

According to Rep. Briggs, as they launched the awareness of the new currency, the government does not have the money to print money, so I am appealing to you to treat our money with the same care you would treat other countries’ money.

Earlier, Bong County Superintendent Esther Walker thanked the CBL for choosing her county to carry out such an initiative.

Walker promised the CBL officials that, as a vice jury of the President of Liberia in Bong County, she would work with them to propagate the message to her people on the country’s currency reform process to ensure that the citizens take ownership of the process and stop the misinformation.

“As we have come to sit down to launch this initiative together and have a good conversation around our new currency reform, I am asking all of you, including the students, to listen carefully and take the message back to your people on how our new country’s money is looking,” she said.

Others present at the launch in Gbarnga included development partners from the IMF, World Bank, and UNDP, as well as officials from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, CBL Executive Board of Governors, traditional leaders, town chiefs, religious leaders, marketers, CSOs, and students.