CBL Sets Record Straight on Cash Outflow

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Headquarters of the Central Bank of Liberia

The Central Bank of Liberia has said despite an end-of-year press conference on December 21, 2017 on the state of the Liberian economy, stories still linger about alleged illegal capital transfers.

In a press release issued by Cyrus Wleh Badio, head of corporate communications, the bank said these stories linger because the statistics that the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has released have been taken out of context and/or simply misunderstood.

“It is therefore important that the CBL clarifies these stories to prevent speculations that have the propensity to undermine the credibility and stability of the financial sector and by extension present wrong signals to the public including our development partners and current and potential investors, among others,” the release said.

Badio noted that during the December 2017 press conference, the CBL disclosed that between November 2016 and October 2017, outward personal remittances amounted to US$449.41 million, while during that same period, Liberia received US$545.78 million in inward personal remittance, representing a net gain of US$96.37 million.

He said the US$449 million mentioned comprised all transfers in cash made by residents to non-residents and transfers between resident and non-resident individuals on one hand, while on the other hand, it also comprised transfers of income of border, seasonal, and other short-term workers who are employed in the economy where they are not resident.

“It is the total of all monies remitted through Western Union, MoneyGram, RIA (another money transfer operator) and via SWIFT1 by individuals and/or businesses to the rest of the world.

“Furthermore, reporting that there was US$449.41 million in outward personal remittance in 2017 does not in any way suggest that the money was transmitted directly from the CBL or transmitted to unidentified foreign accounts. The CBL wishes to emphasize that the sources of the monies that were remitted were not from the Central Bank of Liberia. In addition, nowhere in the CBL publication does the issue of unidentified foreign accounts arises,” he said.

“For the calendar year 2017 (i.e. January-December, 2017), provisional statistics show that the total outflows of personal remittances amounted to US$445.3 million. Of this amount, about 31.5 percent was transferred through Money Transfer Operators (i.e. Western Union, MoneyGram, and RIA) while the remaining 68.5 percent were through banks using SWIFT. Most of the SWIFT transactions (which constituted 68.5 percent of the total outflows) were carried out by businesses engaged in construction activities, rice and frozen food importation, auto parts, supermarkets and trading businesses, among others.”

The release said, “Over the last 2 years, proceeding the elections period, the total outflows of personal remittances grew from US$293.4 million in 2015 to US$304.6 million in 2016. The growth in total outflow in 2017 largely reflects responses within the economy to the uncertainty that may have been associated with the then-impending elections,” adding that, “Where there is uncertainty, there will be an outflow of funds. It is important, however, to once again emphasize that the total outflow of remittances mentioned is an aggregate of personal remittances from various sources and NOT transfers made by officials of Government or to unknown accounts as is being wrongly perceived.”

“The Central Bank of Liberia welcomes public scrutiny, especially from the media, but this must be done in good faith,” it concluded.

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