— President Weah requests timely conclusion of arrangement for printing of currency
The House of Representatives has voted unanimously to forward a proposition for the printing of L$35 billion to the Committee on Banking and Currency, which would critically evaluate the proposal, including the cost and benefit analysis, and report to Plenary on Monday, September 23, 2019.
The House’s decision on Wednesday, the 10th day Special Sitting, was prompted by a communication from President George Weah calling for their endorsement to print the country’s new money.
The 7-man Bank and Currency Committee is chaired by Montserrado County District #16 Representative Dixon W. Seboe and co-chaired by Montserrado County District #17 Representative Hanson Kiazolu.
Other members are Montserrado County District #11 Representative Richard Koon, Margibi County District #2 and 4# representatives Ivar Jones and Ben Fofana, Sinoe County District #3 Representative Matthew Zarzar, and Bong County District #7 Representative Joseph Papa Kolleh.
In the President’s communication, he admitted receiving a communication from authorities at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) advising that the economy may be seriously affected due to an unaccounted local currency infused into the economy, leading to high inflation, and has recommended the printing of new local currency to replace the existing one.
“While the decision needs to be made now to address this issue that impacts the economy, it is important to note that the printing of the banknotes will require your approval in accordance with Article 34 (d) (ii) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia (1986),” the president wrote.
He added: “In view thereof, I have advised the Executive Governor to seek an opportunity to discuss this matter with you and your appropriate committees as you will dictate. It is my fervent hope that you can agree on the way forward to enable the CBL to move forward in a timely manner to conclude arranges for printing the currency.”
It can be recalled that the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, on Tuesday, September 17, withdrew its recommendation for the printing of new Liberian banknotes following lawmakers’ 67th day sitting. Some senators, including Samuel Cooper, Darius Dillon and Daniel Naathen, questioned the credibility of the CBL to print new currency.
The senators are demanding that the fiscal managers give account of the reported missing L$16 billion and US$25 million reportedly infused into the economy before the printing of the L$35 billion.
They further argued that it would be a sheer risk and disaster to engage in a gamble of the country’s coffer with the folks at the CBL and those at the Ministry of Finance.
The Senate Banking and Currency Committee had earlier recommended that Plenary allow the Executive Branch through the CBL to print the new banknotes.
Chairman Marshall Dennis has encouraged his colleagues to vote in favor of the new money, which reportedly has increased security features, to avoid faking as well and to have all denominations (L$10, L$20, L$50, L$100 and L$500), including a L$1,000 banknote, in minted coins.
Senator Varney Sherman registered his support for the printing of the new banknotes, with an objective of having control of the amount of money in the bank. But the senator is thought to be against the printing of L$35 billion, arguing that only L$21 billion is on the Liberian market or in the economy.
Sherman is also against the introduction of the L$1,000 banknote and the minting of coins.
The Daily Observer has gathered that the House Banking and Currency Committee is expected to begin ‘secret hearing’ with officials of the CBL beginning today as well as other national and international financial experts, not limited to fiscal experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).