Amid conflicting accounts and speculations on the actual amount printed by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), the Executive Governor of the CBL has announced that five billion Liberian dollars (L$5bn) were printed.
Governor Milton Weeks said the Bank printed L$5bn by the approval of both houses of the Legislature, but the denomination, design and composition of the new banknotes were decided and recommended by the CBL Board of Governors to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who subsequently approved in accordance with the CBL revised Act.
Though Governor Weeks did not state whether the new banknotes would be different in size the notes are expected to be in similar size to their predecessors and also retain their respective colors, as published in several newspapers by the CBL. Noticeably, the L$500 new banknote would be purple and will be the same size as the others.
Governor Weeks said that the key difference would be in the textures of the currencies, making them recognizable even by the visually impaired.
He made the announcement yesterday at a public hearing in the House’s first floor conference room regarding the printing of the new L$500 banknotes.
Weeks stated that the new L$500 banknote has high-tech measures and security features, which would be very difficult to counterfeit. He did not elaborate as of the quality of the high-tech measures and how much was printed in each denomination, arguing that money policy cannot be developed in public.
“People on the new L$500 banknotes are common Liberians, whose names the CBL does not even know. We choose their features because the CBL did not want to get involved in politics,” Weeks explained.
The chairman of the 7-man Special Committee, Margibi County Representative Ben Fofana; co-chairman, Rep. Saah Joseph and members, Reps. Garrison Yealue and Rev. Dr. Isaac Roland, argued that the new L$500 banknotes did not meet the approval of the House of Representatives.
The Committee argued that the letters from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Acting Executive Governor Charles Sirleaf only stated the replacement of mutilated banknotes, with the understanding of printing new L$5, L$10, L$20, L$50 and L$100, not a new denomination of banknotes, the L$500.
However, Governor Weeks also argued that the constitution provides that the Legislature will approve the quantity of new money, while the denomination, design and composition are decided by the Board of Directors and recommended to the President for approval.
“Let’s say for the record that it is our understanding that the Legislature approves the quantity of the printing of additional money, while our act mandates us to decide the denomination, design and composition of the new money with approval from the President.
“We cannot assure the Legislature,” he continued, “that the withholding of the new banknotes, which have already been printed, will be in the market.”
Meanwhile, another public hearing is expected next week between the CBL and the Special Committee, which would be behind closed doors.
It may be recalled that on Thursday, August 4, during the 49th day sitting, a 7-man Committee was constituted to investigate whether the printing of the L$500 specimen banknotes was based on the authority of the House, which has the sole constitutional approval power before the printing of currency.
During that sitting, the House plenary unanimously reached the decision which allowed the Speaker J. Alex Tyler to appoint the Committee owing to a letter from Maryland County District #4 Representative, Rev. Dr. Isaac Roland.
Roland indicated in his letter that contrary to what was authorized by the Legislature, the CBL is currently carrying on an educational campaign to showcase new Liberian banknotes in higher denominations.
The Committee is expected to make a formal report on Thursday, August 11.