-House’s Banking, Currency Chairman Suggests to Plenary
The exchange rate of the US dollars to the Liberian dollar, (L$162 to 1 US$), coupled with the soaring prices of goods, have caused many Liberians to believe that the economy would crash soon — probably this year or 2020.
But, in an effort to combat the expected drown economy, the chairman of the Committee of Banking and Currency in the House of Representatives (54th Legislature), Rep. Dixon W. Seboe, is suggesting that the economy must be shifted from an 8-hour to a 12 to 14-hour economy.
The House’s economy and investment chief said almost every commercial activity in the country opens at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and shuts down at either 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., which limits the economy to eight hours per day.
He argued in a letter to the House’s Plenary that, “if the economy opens for more hours, it will grow.”
Rep. Seboe, a former Finance Ministry customs director, said the country can obtain a “modest growth’ despite inheriting a messy and broken economy.
“The trajectory indicates that the growth can even double in our first term if adequate economic and political variables are put in place,” Rep. Seboe stressed in his letter, dated January 23, 2019.
“I want to plead with you all my colleagues that we should invite the Ministers of Commerce, Finance and other relevant institutions to begin a frank discussion on how to achieve this in the soonest possible time,” he said.
Seboe, who represents Montserrado County District #16, drew his argument from a recent report by the African Development Bank, which speaks to the economic growth of the country in 2018.
“Real GDP grew to an estimated 3.7% from 2.5% in 2017 and it is estimated to grow to 4.7% this year. This growth is underpinned by the modest growth in the agricultural, fisheries and service sectors,” Rep. Seboe said.
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives voted to send Rep. Seboe’s letter to the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning and report in an unspecified time-frame.
The decision was made on Thursday, January 31, during the 7th day sitting, following a motion from Montserrado County District #7 Representative Solomon C. George.
Amid the bad economy, President George M. Weah during his annual address to the Legislature on Monday, January 28, predicted prospects while some Liberians have differed, arguing that the primary trigger of a full-blown crash would be a financial crisis, which is glaring.
A member of the House of Representatives, who requested to not be named, told the Daily Observer that most of the banks in the country are holding more capital relative to assets than before, arguing that the banks want to avoid stress if there will be a recession.
Another member of the House, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “Workforce participation has to rise from its all-time low. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families.”
Full-time work in the country is currently defined as eight hours daily for five days a week, a total of 40 hours, at least for public offices. For commercial businesses workers put in around to 48 hours per week, which typically includes Saturdays.