–Sen Wesseh Reminds CBL Governor Patray, Finance Minister Tweah
Senator Conmany B. Wesseh of River Gee County, has reminded the Government of Liberia through the Central Bank of Liberia and the Ministry of Finance that the government’s actions in recent times are tantamount to shooting itself in the leg.
“I think our country, especially more recently, we have been the one shooting ourselves in the legs; the government itself is the one shooting itself in the Leg. You are hurting the country more than anything else, and you have to take responsibility for that.”
Senator Wesseh made the comment last evening in the Chambers of the Senate, when CBL Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray and Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah appeared before the Senate committee on Banking and Currency. Minister Tweah had refused two previous citations to appear before the committee chaired by Senator A. Marshall Dennis to answer questions for government’s decision to print L$35 billion.
Senator Wesseh told the hearing, which was for most part was held in an unlit chamber, that the hearing was to convince them as to why they should support the idea of printing new notes; “and all of what I have heard so far, a good number of them are not responses that are helping us to make that determination.”
The River Gee County lawmaker, for example, referred to the controversial L$16 billion printed currency and the US$25 million mop-up exercise, which the CBL Governor had earlier claimed had been solved, but then talked about litigation.
“Now it raises questions. If on the one hand it is, but in reality it is not solved, and yet you want to be trusted with printing more money and more than what the controversy has been about, then I don’t know how we can trust you.”
The dark and heated Senate chamber even became more tense when exchanges ensued between Senator Wesseh and Governor Patray, over his (Patray’s) earlier answer to Senator Daniel Naatehn of when he was going to resign, in which he said he did not know.
Senator Wesseh recalled government officials giving diverse and sometimes conflicting stories about the correct amount of money printed, where it was printed and its whereabouts.
“Now after you have done what you have done to yourselves and to us, you are telling us that you want to print new money because there is no confidence in the economy or the banking system, when you created that problem,” Senator Wesseh asserted.
The soft, but tough speaking Senator accused the government of creating another problem when it accused Crane, a recognized money printing institution globally, of printing excess money and was involved in dubious activities, “so you were going to take Crane to court.”
So when the question is asked, in many civilized societies, when a matter like this catches you and it is too bad, and because the way you are perceived may not be totally true; but the perception is affecting the economy, nobody needs to tell you — you resign. You don’t put the pressure on the President to do it. You say for the sake of the country I will do this, and it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t work anywhere else; but for that particular area that brings the doubt on you, you will take the step necessary for the sake of our country.
But in a sharp and rather surprising response to Senator Wesseh’s comment, Governor Patray said thus: “Senator Wesseh, you talked about my resignation, probably your character is done with, mine is not done with. My character is at stake, my whole life I have been in the bank, I didn’t come here to look for job. I was called to work; twenty-five to thirty years I have been in banking business,” Governor Patray angrily reacted.
In his closing statement, Chairman Dennis demanded an apology from Governor Patray to Senator Wesseh, stating: “We can calm the storm by you publicly apologizing,” which he did.
Meanwhile, another hearing was announced by Senator Dennis, who clarified that the Committee had not intended initially “to overly publicize the printing of this money because of its security implications, but to the extent that it has gone; if we can even retrieve our initial report to plenary, it means that we have no other option.”
Later, at the close of the hearing, around 8 p.m., he openly apologized.
Detailed story story to follow in our subsequent editions.