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.
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.