-Over Permit to print additional L$10 billion and the status of the ‘missing billions’
Beginning today, November 12, all those who served as members of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and authorized the printing of the additional L$10 billion are expected to appear before the House of representatives and every other day-sitting with consonance to their schedules, in order to avoid conflict of schedules with other investigative teams which are also investigating the alleged missing L$15 billion.
Those who are expected to appear before the full Plenary of the Lower House by 11 a.m. today include David Farhat, Madam Melisa A. Emeh, Elsie Dossen Badio, Kolli S. Tamba and former Chairman Milton A. Weeks, whose appearance would be the second time in less than a week.
Members of the House of Representatives, including Speaker Bhofal Chambers, blamed Weeks and his Board of Governors for the saga surrounding the alleged missing L$15 billion, which they said has brought the Legislature to public disrepute, thus damaging the country’s image.
Today’s appearance will be centered around Resolution ‘BR-06/2017′ by the Board of Governors of the CBL, concerning the printing and replacement of the legacy Liberian banknotes, which led to the printing of additional L$10 billion worth of banknotes and the whereabouts of both the L$5 billion and the L$10 billion respectively.
The invitation of the former Chairman and members of the Board of Governors of CBL was prompted by a motion raised on Thursday, Nov. 8, by Representative Edwin M. Snowe, which was unanimously accepted after Mr. Weeks revealed that the CBL did not inform former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the Legislature prior to the printing of the banknotes.
The motion was also prompted by Mr. Weeks’ interpretation of the “understanding of acquiescence”, as mentioned in a letter from the 53rd Legislature, which he believed was an “expressed authority.”
During Thursday’s hearing at the 4th day sitting of the extraordinary session of the Legislature, Mr. Weeks told lawmakers, under confidentiality, that CBL entered into an agreement with Crane Currency in Sweden to print additional L$10 billion in June 2017, before being authorized by the Legislature to replace the banknotes.
Weeks said that the CBL acted based on a communication from both Houses of the Legislature which, in his mind, authorized the CBL to completely replace the legacy banknotes with the newly printed bills.
Excerpt of the letter: “That the Government of Liberia should continue to use the United States dollars and Liberian dollars until at such time when the country’s export has increased significantly.
“That the Central Bank of Liberia is hereby requested to replace the legacy notes (Liberty) completely with the newly printed banknotes so that there will be a single type of Liberian currency, thus facilitating proper control of the money supply; and that the Central Bank of Liberia is authorized to introduce coins in lower denomination into the economy to allow fractional transaction which could help to minimize inflation.
“In view of the above, and with the power assigned to the Legislature under Article 35 (d) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, this shall constitute your legal and significant authority. Meanwhile, the Legislature would request that you furnish this body with the appropriate details of the volume and denomination of the replacing banknotes prior to the printing and minting of coins,” the letter stated.
However, former Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay, in his explanation, admitted that the Legislature did send the above letter to the CBL, but noted that it did not authorize the CBL to print additional banknotes.
According to him, the CBL was authorized to use the remaining L$5 billion (the first batch of the newly printed money the Legislature had authorized the CBL to print in 2016), and if there is a need to print additional ones, the CBL should return to the Legislature with details of the money it wanted to print.