-In the additional printing of L$10bn, former CBL Executive Governor Weeks fumbles
Former Executive Governor of the Central Bank Liberia (CBL), Milton Weeks has admitted in his testimony before members of the House of Representatives for failing to brief former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the volume and denominations before the additional printing of the L$10 billion.
Mr. Weeks also stumbled on his interpretation of the “understanding of acquiescence” in a letter from the 53rd Legislature, of which he believed was an “expressed authority.”
The flip of Mr. Weeks’ understanding appears to have exonerated former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was accused of illegally authorizing Governor Weeks, as well as the Legislature, to print additional banknotes instead of the stipulated L$5 billion, based on their July 19, 2017, letter.
In the Thursday’s Extraordinary Session, which marked the 4th day sitting, Mr. Weeks admitted not bringing the former President up-to-date as she instructed him in her letter of August 7, 2017, in response to his (Mr. Weeks) letter of July 31, 2017, for additional printing of the money.
In the former president’s letter, which was read in session, Mrs. Sirleaf acknowledged the receipt of the CBL letter and the concern of the Legislature in replacing the old Liberty banknotes with the newly printed ones, but instructed the CBL that, after furnishing the Legislature with the volume and denomination before the additional printing, she too must be furnished.
In reaction to the clarity presented by former House Speaker Atty. J. Emmanuel Nuquay, that letter to the CBL, dated July 19, 2017, was not an “expressed authority”. Instead, it authorized the CBL to replace the parallel Liberian banknotes with the L$5 billion newly printed banknotes, and then furnish the Legislature on the volume and denomination of the would-be printing of additional Liberian banknotes. Mr. Weeks said the letter was, “in his mind,” an authority because of an earlier discussion between the CBL and the leadership of the House of Representatives as well as the Senate.
“The CBL believed it was an authority… and in my mind, it was the full authority,” Mr. Weeks said.
He said prior to that letter, the CBL wrote former Speaker Nuquay and former President Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah of the need for an additional printing of Liberian banknotes in the amount of LD$10 billion.
The former CBL boss narrated that under his management, the CBL printed LD$15 billion and received all the money from the Crane Currency Company of Sweden.
In a letter of July 19, 2017, the CBL said: “We present our compliments and by the Plenaries of Senate and the House of Representatives (in session) respectively, apprise you that in separate discussions on the declining state of the Liberian economy, the Legislature has made the following decision to wit.
“The Government of Liberia should continue to use the United States dollars and the Liberian dollars until at such time the country’s export base has improved significantly. The Central Bank of Liberia is hereby requested to replace the legacy notes (Liberty) 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 denominations into the economy to allow fractional transaction which could help to minimize inflation.”
The letter further said: “In view of the above, and with the power assigned with the Legislature under Article 35(d) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, this shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority.
“Meanwhile, the Legislature would request that you furnish it with the appropriate details of the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes prior to the printing and minting of coins.”
It was signed by Madam Mildred N. Sayon, Chief Clerk, the House of Representatives and Mr. Naborlor F. Singbe, Sr., Secretary, the Senate.
Meanwhile, in a motion proffered by Bomi County District #1 Representative, Edwin M. Snowe, Mr. Weeks and the Board Members of the CBL, between 2016 to August 2018, are to appear to continue the investigation as well as their schedules to avoid generating a conflict with the investigation of other institutions.