The administration of President George Weah has opened the country's first regional cash hub with the intent of servicing the needs of the commercial banks, and the general public.
The project, undertaken by the Central Bank of Liberia comes at a time when the bank has been struggling to meet the cash supply of other Liberians, especially those living in rural areas.
But with the Bong County cash hub, the Weah administration and the CBL appeared to be meeting the banking needs of everyone, but most importantly, the rural population.
This new cash hub is expected to serve the central, north, and southeastern regions of Liberia, which suffers from poor penetration of financial services.
"This project is therefore geared towards creating the enabling infrastructure for the provision of efficient banking services for the people in the rural area, and to further the expansion of commercial bank branches across the country," explained President Weah at the opening of the cash hub in Gbarnga, Bong County Yesterday.
He added: "The commercial banks are also at the heart of this investment because it will help to drastically lessen the burden and high risks associated with their cash movements, thereby reducing their cost of doing business."
The Bong Cash hub, according to the President, is just one of the four regional Cash Hubs that is expected to be built across the country and will meet the minimum requirement of a central bank, including being equipped with secured vault systems to ensure maximum security for cash and other assets intended for safekeeping.
Each Cash Hub, the President said, will function as a fully-fledged branch of the CBL, providing minimum banking services to commercial banks and the general public, including the collection of government revenues and the provision of other payment services for the government.
"It will also help to create jobs for rural inhabitants, as these regional cash hubs will need to be staffed adequately to enable them to operate efficiently as branches of the CBL, and to provide banking services consistent with the demand to be met in those locations," President Weah disclosed.
He added, "The government is also a key beneficiary of this project, as these regional hubs will facilitate revenue collection and payment services for the local government, the public, and the civil servants, especially our committed and hardworking teachers and health workers."
The Gbarnga City Cash Hub is only the first of the CBL’s projects to build modern branches of the Bank across the country, in line with the government’s financial sector development program.
Its primary intention is to service the needs of the government, the commercial banks, mobile money operators, and the public, as well as helping with the collection of government revenues and the provision of other payment services for the government.
Meanwhile, President Weah has recalled that in 2019, his administration embarked upon the challenging process of initiating reforms at the CBL, which involved several critical changes in both personnel and policies that are being fruitful today, including the cash hub.
The new team, according to President Weah, has done a remarkable job in bringing stability and improvement to the macro-economic and monetary environment, which was greatly challenged at the time.
"Under the leadership of this new team, we are beginning to see the Liberian dollar gather strength and the rate of inflation fall very steeply. Other critical inventions in the economy have led to a more promising outlook, including better GDP projections," the Liberian leader added. "They are continuing to make steady progress towards the fulfillment of the main objective and purpose of a central bank, which is to achieve and maintain price stability in the economy. We must all continue to work harder to ensure that these gains are sustained."
He said, "And one of the ways that these new policy measures can be felt by ordinary people is that which we are witnessing here today: bringing banking services to the rural population. This will go a long way in facilitating much-needed development while improving people's lives."
President Weah noted that as the legally-designated regulator of the banking industry, the CBL is leading the effort on behalf of the government in support of its national development agenda, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), and the Executive Governor, the Board of Governors, and the Management and Staff of the CBL are to be commended for their leadership in this regard.
"I look forward to the opening of another regional cash hub in the not too distant future," the Liberian leader said.
In remarks, CBL Executive Governor Aloysius Tarlue noted that the dedication marks a significant day in the history of the CBL since, for the first time since 1975, the bank is establishing a branch out of Monrovia as well as addressing the overhead cost by commercial banks.
Governor Tarlue added that the new regional cash hub aims to help the government in its train generation and the disbursement of new currency.
"Commercial banks go through a lot to take money to the southeast, especially during the rainy season, due to the bad road network. Additionally, these facilities will attract commercial banks to move in some places they are not and be able to serve our people because Monrovia is not Liberia," Tarlue said.
Varney A Sirleaf, the Minister of Internal Affairs, said rural residents remain delighted by the decision taken by President Weah to ensure the establishment of a regional financial hub.
"This is something that our people want. Our rural residents don't need to go to Monrovia anymore to cash or get their money. This is one of the things they have been wishing for and today they have it," Minister Sirleaf said.
John B. S. Davies, President of the Liberia Bankers Association, expressed delight at the new initiative of the Central Bank of Liberia and lauded President Weah for the support.
Friday's dedication brought together the president of the Liberia Bankers Association John B. S. Davies, the Bong County Legislative Caucus, the chairman of banking the committee at the House of Representatives, international partners, Internal Affairs Minister Varney A. Sirleaf, Senator Prince Moye, and others.