Legislature Gave CBL Blank Check to Print Additional Liberian Dollars

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The 53rd Legislature, during the Speakership of J. Emmanuel Nuquay (left) and Senate Pro Tempore Armah Jallah (right), authorized the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print unspecified and additional Liberian banknotes, to replace the Liberty bills.

The Daily Observer has gathered that the 53rd Legislature, during the Speakership of J. Emmanuel Nuquay and Senate Pro Tempore Armah Jallah, authorized the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print unspecified and additional Liberian banknotes, to replace the Liberty bills.

According to a letter in possession of this newspaper, dated July 19, 2017, the Plenaries of the House of Representatives and the Senate, through Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon and Secretary J. Nanborlor Singbeh, respectively, authorized the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print additional banknotes, further authorizing the CBL to introduce coins in lower denominations into the economy, in order to allow a fractional transaction which could help to minimize inflation.

The Legislature’s administrative and clerical heads indicated that their joint letter constituted the CBL’s legal and sufficient authority to print an unspecified and additional number of Liberian dollar banknotes, but said that the Legislature should be fully furnished with the appropriate details of the volume and denomination of the money prior to the printing and the minting of the coins.

The letter said: “We present our compliments and by directive of the Plenaries of the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively [IN SESSION], apprise you that in separate discussions on the declining state of the Liberian economy, the Legislature has made the following decision to wit: That the Government of Liberia should continue to use the United States dollars and Liberian dollars until at such time when the country’s export base has increased significantly.”

It added: “That the  Central Bank of Liberia is hereby requested to replace the legacy notes [Liberty] completely with the newly printed banknotes so that there will be a single type of Liberian currency, thus facilitating proper control of money supply, and that the Central Bank of Liberia is authorized to introduce coins in lower denomination into the economy, to allow fractional transaction which would help to minimize inflation.”

The letter also said: “Meanwhile, the Legislature would request that you furnish this body [Legislature] with the appropriate details of the volume and denomination of the new banknotes prior to the printing and the minting of coins.”

Though the Daily Observer cannot say whether the printing of unspecified and additional Liberian banknotes was part of former President Sirleaf’s turnover notes to President George M. Weah, there are reports that the Weah administration might have been in the know.

CDC Executive member and Montserrado County District # 8 Representative Acarous M. Gray

Meanwhile, Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray told newsmen yesterday that the CBL, having received the authorization from the Legislature to print unspecified and additional Liberian banknotes, notified former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who went ahead with the printing, disregarding the obligation to furnish the Legislature with appropriate details of the volume and denomination of the printing and the minting of coins.

“Former President Sirleaf’s letter to the Legislature about our authorization to the CBL put her in the know about the actual amount which was printed without informing the Legislature,” Rep. Acarous Gray said.

“However, upon our reconvening, we will summon the former President, along with the former CBL Governor and other parties, about the alleged missing money,” Rep. Gray said.

Meanwhile, it may also be recalled that in 2016, two separate “Resolutions” from the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate, respectively, revealed that the House of Representatives and the Senate firstly authorized the printing of additional LD$5 billion.

According to the resolutions, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, the Senate’s resolution is entitled #002/2016, while the House of Representatives’ resolution is #001/2016.

Mr. Charles Sirleaf, serving as Acting Executive Governor of Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in March 2016, wrote to Speaker J. Alex Tyler of the House of Representatives as well as Senate President Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah, requesting the printing of additional banknotes. By April 16, 2018, Mr. Milton Weeks was appointed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as CBL Executive Governor, to replace Dr. Mills Jones, whose tenure had expired.

According to the Senate Resolution, on May 9, 2016, the additional printing of L$5 billion was intended to alleviate the brewing economic crisis and, by extension, economic, political and security threats to the country as well as to address the swap of the mutilated Liberian banknotes on the market.

The Senate’s resolution was prompted by a response from Acting CBL Executive Governor Charles E. Sirleaf, CBL/A-E GOV/CES/0000232/2016.

The resolution quoted Mr. Sirleaf’s response on the specified various denominations, quantities and amounts: L$500 banknote (2m pieces = $L1 billion); L$100 banknote (26,250,000 pieces = L$2.625 billion); L$50 banknote (20,000,000 pieces = L$1 billion); L$20 banknote (10,000,000 pieces = L$200million); L$10 banknote (10, 000,000 pieces = L$100 million) and L$5 (15,000,000 pieces = L$75 million).

Seven of the 30 senators, who did not sign the resolution, included Senators George M. Weah (Montserrado County), Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence (Grand Bassa County), Cllr. Varney G. Sherman (Grand Cape Mount County), President Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah (Gbarpolu County), Joseph Nagbe (Sinoe County), Oscar A. Cooper (Margibi County) and J. Gbleh-bo Brown (Maryland County).

“Whereas, the CBL has satisfactorily responded to the queries raised by the Joint Committee in its preliminary report to plenary and subsequently endorsed by Plenary of the Liberian Senate. Therefore, the Liberian Senate hereby grants the request of the CBL to print LD$5,000,000,000.00. (Five billion Liberian dollars) to address the acute shortage of Liberian banknotes on the market and the corresponding financial crisis associated with it that could border on national security of the country,” the Senate’s resolution said.

Meanwhile, the Resolution of the House of Representatives, titled #001/2016 and which is also in possession of this newspaper, has revealed that the Lower House endorsed the resolution on Thursday, April 21, 2016, and that it was adopted by two-thirds of the total membership of the House of Representatives of the 53rd Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, authorizing the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print additional L$5 billion in compliance with Article 34d (II).

Article 34d (II) of the 1986 Constitution says: “No monies shall be drawn from the treasury except in consequence of appropriations made by legislative enactment and upon the warrant of the President, and no coin shall be minted or national currency issued except by the expressed authority of the Legislature. An annual statement and account of the expenditure of all public monies shall be submitted by the office of the President to the Legislature and published once a year.”

The House’s resolution said: ‘We, the below listed Members of the Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, have authorized the Central Bank of Liberia to print additional Liberian Bank Notes to be infused in the Liberian economy but with a caveat that the Central Bank of Liberia adhere to a comprehensive audit by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).”

According to the Resolution, 10 of the 73 members of the House of Representatives of the 53rd Legislature, who did not affix their signatures, include Representatives Dr. Edward Forh, Josephine M. G. Francis, Munah Pelham-Youngblood, William Dakel, Matthew Zarzar, Samuel Kogar, Worlea Saywah Dunah, Zoe Pennue, Haja Fata Siryon and Christian Chea.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Rep. Gray says the “(lawmakers) will summon the former President, along with the former CBL Governor and other parties, about the alleged missing money,”…but Gray is an opium smoker (look at his red eyes!), so I won’t put any credibility in anything he says.

    • Is it what is prescribed By statutory law and the Liberian Constitution that would authorize and “constitute the CBL’s legal and sufficient authority to print an unspecified and additional number of Liberian dollar banknotes,” OR WHAT MAY BE INDICATED OF A JOINT LETTER BY The Legislature’s administrative and clerical heads granting and constituting the CBL’s legal and sufficient authority to print an unspecified and additional number of Liberian dollar banknotes”??????????????????????????????????????????????

      Besides, there IS ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE in the the two letter where ANY SUCH ” CBL´S LEGAL AND SUFFICIENT AUTHORITY to print an unspecified and additional number of Liberian dollar banknotes IS GRANTED By the Legislature; WHETHER BY EXPRESSION, ENUMERATION, OR IMPLICATION! NOWHERE!!!

  2. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones!!!

    “However, upon our reconvening, we will summon the former President, along with the former CBL Governor and other parties, about the alleged missing money,” Rep. Gray said.

    Isn’t this the same Representative Gray who was adamant in calling for the impeachment of Associate Justice Ja’neh for being incapable of exercising his Supreme Court duties?

    Now, this same Representative Gray and his fellow Lawmakers failed to exercise their constitutional mandate prescribed in Article 34d (II) of the 1986 Constitution: in a nutshell …… “No coin shall be minted or national currency issued except by the expressed authority of the Legislature. An annual statement and account of the expenditure of all public monies shall be submitted by the office of the President to the Legislature and published once a year.”

    These same Lawmakers gave a blank slip to CBL to print unspecified banknotes: purportedly needed to prop up a weak economy. However, these Lawmakers failed to follow up with the CBL or the former President on how much money was actually printed, and how the banknotes were infused into market to strengthen the weak economy as alleged?

    According to the article printed above, CBL on two occasions requested authorization to print new banknotes. CBL first printed LD$5b, and later went on to print another LD$5b….thus totaling LD$10billion. This new amount (LD$10B) contradicts the LD$15B or LD$16 Billion that some current government officials are reporting missing/not missing.

    I would categorically say, members of the 53rd Legislature dropped the ball for not keeping up with the (unspecified) new banknotes CBL was authorized print and report back to the Legislators per Article 34d (II) of the 1986 Constitution.

    The Press is doing all the investigative work on the alleged missing money for these do-nothing high salary lawmakers who were elected to work on behalf of their constituents.

    Remember, Rep. Gray, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones!

  3. I have followed several debates and analysis about the alleged missing billions and authorization for its printing, but I must admit that I’m greatly amazed by the way the media has analyzed the communication from the 53rd legislature to the Central Bank of Liberia dated July 19, 2017.
    Prior to the communication dated July 19, 2017, it’s clear that the 53rd legislature authorized the Central Bank of Liberia to print Five (5) Billion Liberian Dollars. However, the July 19, 2017 communication to the Central Bank of Liberia had three distinct instructions and/or authorizations:
    • That the Government of Liberia should continue to use the combination of the United States Dollars and the Liberian Dollars;
    • That the Central Bank was requested to replace the legacy note (Liberty) with the NEWLY PRINTED BANKNOTES; and
    • That the Central Bank was authorized to introduce coins in lower denominations.
    At the end of the communication, the Central Bank of Liberia was instructed to furnish the 53rd Legislature with the appropriate details of the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes PRIOR TO THE PRINTING AND MINTING OF COINS!
    What is so difficult about this communication that it’s being interpreted as an authorization to the Central Bank of Liberia to print new banknotes? I’m lost, honestly! ria.

  4. Karyartay. Read the comments under the September 25, 2018 article of the Daily Observer’s online article, titled, “‘What Clear Lies!’ says Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf”. There I first provided an analysis of the instruction from how one would look at it from a legal perspective. And since then, I’ve been delighted that many have taken notice of that one overarching instruction, ‘to replace completely the legacy notes with newly printed banknotes.’ I also explained how the L$5 billion specific instruction is not mutually exclusive to the intent of the Legislature as instructed in the mandate provided the CBL. One has to read the instruction factually and isolate any assumption, hearsay or opinion and thought of what the Legislature meant. The instruction is self explicatory.

    Below is what I posted then in the 09/25/18 story comment section (annotated):

    ‘What’s troubling is that the Legislature actually granted authority to the CBL to ‘replace completely all legacy notes…” That’s the authorization right there. It was never limited to just the L$5B. The Legislature went further in its instructions that the CBL replenish the legacy notes completely with new notes. Ellen has correctly stated the Legislature exercised its Constitutional authority in so doing. She also correctly stated the CBL is an autonomous Agency that functions independent in its decision making, and took the secondary step of authorizing the printing of the L$10B in order to replace the remaining legacy notes after the initial L$5B. The CBL report should clarify that. Sirleaf’s government is not responsible for the printing. If the actual facts are to be considered, it’s the Legislature that should be held accountable. Its instructions were to print as much as was sufficient to replace completely the legacy notes.

    Here is the language in the Legislature’s instruction:

    “to replace the legacy notes completely with the newly printed banknotes so that there will be a single type of Liberian currency, thus facilitating proper control of the money supply.”

    Do members of the Legislature understand this instruction? If their intention was different than what the authorization states, they failed to provide that. ‘

    I posted additional comment after this, along with other commenters who posted their thoughts. It’ll give a great insight to one interested in understanding the actual factual predicate.

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