Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray has resigned as President George Weah’s quest to restructure the bank’s leadership and restore credibility after the publication of two damning reports a couple of months ago about the CBL—banking procedures.
The two reports—the Kroll Associates Incorporated report and The Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) report point to major lapses in the CBL’s systems and controls mechanism because of its handling of the US24 million-mop-up exercise.
The former governor, whose resignation has been accepted by President Weah since Thursday, October 24, 2019, is leaving the bank at a time when it is experiencing serious liquidity crisis and systematic flaws in its banking procedures — a situation his administration was unable to address.
However, President Weah has profoundly thanked Mr. Patray for his services to the government and people of Liberia. By accepting to serve as a Governor during the challenging times, the President noted, was remarkable. The President also assured Mr. Patray that he (Patray) may be called upon to serve his country in other capacities when the need arises.
Meanwhile, the President has named Dr. Musa Dukuly as Officer-In-Charge of the Central Bank of Liberia, pending the appointment and subsequent confirmation of a new Governor.
The Central Bank of Liberia, formerly the “National Bank of Liberia”, was founded on 18 October 1999 by an act of the national legislature and began operations in 2000. It is a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.
The current financial climate of the CBL shows that Patray’s successor will have to work tirelessly to resolve the systematic flaws in the institution’s banking procedures and initiate a strong policy to tackle rising inflation, an heavily devalued local currency against the U.S. dollar this year and a slack in private investment.
Currently, the World Bank Group 2019 outlook report on the Liberian economy revealed that Liberia’s economy is projected to contract by 1.4 % following the modest growth of 1.2% in 2018.
The report also stated that inflation reached 31.3% by August 2019, up from 26.1% the previous year.
Meanwhile, Mr. Patray’s resignation comes after huge public outcry since the middle part of this year over his handling of the economy, particularly the US$25 million Mop-up exercise, which was intended to stabilize the country’s economy but did not go as planned.
Although many wanted him gone, as well as the President, who said the former governor would have resigned in three months’ time from May 2019, Patray decided to leave at a time best suited for him.
The former CBL boss was appointed to head the country’s central bank on July 4, 2018, a day after the resignation of former governor Milton Weeks. Patray is the second CBL governor to whose five-year tenure was cut short in the Weah administration.
It can be recalled that in July 2018, Weah ordered an infusion of US$25 million into the economy to mop-up excess Liberian dollars.
An investigation by the state auditor found that only US$17 million was used for this purpose. A separate probe into the alleged disappearance of about US$100 million in Liberian Dollars cash that was printed abroad found that while no money was missing, there were lapses in the accuracy and completeness of the central bank’s internal records.
“All of these reports point to a major lapse of controls at the Central Bank of Liberia,” said the President in May. It “calls into question the ability of its present leadership to effectively revamp its internal mechanism to provide greater accountability and professionalism.”
The administration is said to still be on the lookout for a replacement. Several names have been put out in recent weeks but none are said to have won the approval of international stakeholders.