Min. Tweah “Refuses Again to Attend Banking C’ttee Hearing”

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Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr.

Committee Chair Dennis says Tweah’s action jeopardizes their work

For the second time in two weeks, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, has refused to honor citation to appear before Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, to answer questions regarding the printing of new Liberian banknotes.

Minister Samuel Tweah was expected to appear, together with Central Bank of Liberia Governor Nathaniel Patray on Thursday, September 19, after a report from the Senate’s committee on Banking and Currency had earlier recommended to Senate plenary to grant authorization for the printing of L$35 billion, to replace the current banknotes.

The appearance of the heads of the MFDP and CBL was approved by plenary on Tuesday, after the chairman of the Committee, Grand Gedeh County Senator A. Marshall Dennis, agreed with one of his committee members, Senator Oscar Cooper, that indeed the two officials needed to appear to address some concerns raised by most Senators.

But after the Senate session, which started well after 2pm and without discussing in open session any item, decided to go into executive (closed door) session, it was agreed that the Senate committee would meet with the two officials at 4:00pm.

Unfortunately, the Committee convened at almost 5PM, but with only CBL Executive Governor Patray and his team in attendance, with news that he was meeting with President George Weah at his Foreign Ministry office, and may not be able to attend the hearing, again.

With a consensus, members of the Committee agreed that Governor Patray and his team be excused, and be called back at an appropriate time when the Finance Minister will be available.

Reacting to the Minister’s action, Senator Dennis agreed that the two entities cannot be treated separately; “but I want to say here categorically that this is the second time for the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to refuse to attend hearing, whether oral or written; in my mind, it jeopardizes our work.”

As important as the matters are, Senator Dennis recalled that the Finance Minister has always reneged in attending; “this can reach the plenary tomorrow (today) to let the plenary know about the action of the Minister that has stalled this whole process of finalizing the hearing with the two institutions.”

The CBL, he asserted, has always been in attendance, “so we will make our report to plenary tomorrow and ask what action to take further on this situation. The printing of money has both the monetary an fiscal implications and, dealing with you together, we feel that what is for the fiscal side can be answered and that for the monetary side; and at one time we can deal with it across the board which will make our work easier; but since that is not happening, we regret the situation.”

It can be recalled that chairman Dennis on Tuesday, September 17, retrieved the report his committee submitted to plenary in which the Senate was requested to approve recommendation for the printing of L$35 billion to replace L$21 billion of the current banknotes.

The Grand Gedeh Senator’s decision to proffer the motion to return the report to committee room was necessitated by a minority report by Senator Cooper who argued that due diligence was not done before the report was submitted to Senate plenary for action.

The outspoken Senator warned that if the printing of the L$35 billion is approved, “I see additional and irrefutable hardship on our people, and we will only have ourselves to blame; if we do not carefully study the various scenarios, we will impose extreme hurt on the Liberian people who are already suffering from the last infusion of L$16 billion.

The chairman of the Banking & Currency Committee welcomed Senator Cooper’s decision, and agreed that there was a need for flexibility so that mistakes of the past are not repeated.

“We have observed that most of our colleagues still have a lot of lingering concerns on their minds that need answers; Mr. Cooper is quite correct when he said he sent to me a questionnaire for the Central Bank’s response, and since CBL is supposed to be responding to those concerns, at least to allay his apprehensions, it is but necessary that we accept his request to retrieve our report and invite CBL and the Ministry of Finance here,” Senator Dennis said.

The CBL Governor and the Minister of Finance are meanwhile, expected to appear before the Banking committee on Thursday, immediately after the Senate’s regular sitting.

Meanwhile, for the second time in three days, an authoritative source has hinted to the Daily Observer that the new banknotes have already been printed, but Governor Patray was noncommittal on the issue when asked by Legislative reporters yesterday.

10 COMMENTS

  1. What is the economic justification for printing more money? President Weah didn’t give any economic reasons for a need to increase the money supply, so Senators need to ask. Is it going to reduce the exchange rate? Or is it for the purpose of recapitalizing the banks? Will this new currency replace the existing currency? Could printing more money cause an increase in inflation? How will it impact the economy? One of the problems discussed at the NED is that 70% of the currency is held outside the banking system. This problem could be solved by replacing the old currency with new ones which means everyone must bring their old currency to the bank to exchange it for new currency. I believe India did this a couple of years ago so the Liberian government could study their experience.

  2. All that aside, why is the senate or its committee on banking even hurting its head on the appearance of that dumb minister of Finance? After all they are the ones who want to print more money for the taking, so if he doesn’t want to appear to justify why they should be allowed to print additional billions of money when they can’s account for the first printed batch, it’s on him, not the senate. And Liberians and the whole world are anxious waiting to see the caliber of senators we have. Whether they will approve or not, this other nonsense of a provocation. Where in this world has anyone seen that, that a business that cannot account for money entrusted to it is given authority by its board of directors to print more money to make up for the shortage? “If burgorbug ate the brains of our senators, we coming see.”

  3. We need to get more details information on the negative and positive results it will change and bring to our country.
    Up to now the government can’t give us any answers about the $25 millions and the $16 billions plus that got missing.
    Let’s be serious for once.. changing money is now the only basic option.
    Our leaders need to put the country interests first above all. They need to be honest.
    Printing of this new bank notes will help these guys to cover up their some of their criminal act. They talking about $35 billions but they will print Times four of that money.
    Suffering is about to increase if only they cannot give us tangible information

  4. Minister Tweah’s behavior has certainly set a bad precedent, as the senate is the highest lawmaking body of the country, and therefore it should be accorded with respect.

    Why did the senate not compel him to appear for the hearing? What would be the next reactions of the senate members then if another government minister was to behave contemptuously after he/she is cited for a hearing?

  5. In this arrangement where there are supposedly three co-equal, was it not the Executive branch that requested legislative approval for the printing of $35 billions LD in new banknotes? If the Executive branch treasury cannot produce its leader at a Senate hearing, it only reveals the seriouness they attach to the President’s request.

    What the Senate ought to do now is leave things as they are and await the Finance minister’s next move. Certainly, with the mess that both the Finance ministry and the CBL have created, the last place the honorable gentleman would want to be is before a Senate that does not regard him as qualified for the job.

  6. All the Senate needs to do is DENY the request to print new banknotes and tell the Mr. President the reason for their decision to deny his request is based on the fact that his Minister has refused to honor their invitation to appear.

    If your child ask you for money (or anything), the normal reaction is to ask why is the child making the request. If the child refuses to answer your question, you deny their request.

    If this common-sense reality applies to a small family; does the Liberian Senate as a group not have this common sense?

  7. Just as power to the Executive branch created tyranny, we should not allow the Legislative branch of the Liberian government to become more powerful than either of the other branches. Some legislators want to be a part of executive functionaries when they talk about work to do in Liberian dollars. Be specific. The only work and equally important to the diverse duties of the branching, the Legislative branch has, is to make the laws of this Republic. Not make the Liberian dollars. When fiasco legislators, irrespective, of financial status or academic scripted pronouncements, are suspected of greed for power of more wealth, even the illiterate can tell. Thus reminding the days sensible chiefs and elders who became legislators to promote and provide necessary tribal and settled laws in the interest of registered votes were even better. If you keep calling members of the executive branch for superfluous reasons, than you may as well stay with the established laws in the beginning formulation of this nation and seize amendments until you sifter and eradicate decrees and totalitarian laws financed into the constitution during past crisis, until we can find out the damage done by the 1986 error to the commonwealth during the 1848 creation, for the benefits of past, present, and future generations to come. We should not have allowed monetary activities to be authorized by the legislative assembly in the first place unless was provided in budgetary approvals to segment the administrative emblems of this nation. To avoid this legislative aggression on Executive and Judiciary responsibilities, we must no longer give powers such like giving authority to legislative committees to interrogate financial executive matters. We already have auditing bureaus to do that in our internal affairs. It is embarrassing to see other nations interfere in our internal duties. Strangers come in to take freely when we fight. Another alternative, is to instruct the Liberian Judiciary to summon, whenever the need be, greedy law makers to understand the interpretation of Liberian laws, traditions and cultural settings. Over power legislation is week law making. The Liberian people do not need such lawmakers; neither do they need corrupt executives and judges all meet in one bloc to steal the Liberian people monies under pretense of diversified impressions and opinions. We will find out and we as Liberians will fix it ourselves.
    I am not running for nothing, neither do I want your position. I only need the Liberian people monies to come in and be wisely used to make the economy what it should be. (in Liberian language).
    You will pay something if you call me back or reply me. Let Liberian know your side of the story.
    Gone forever on this issue. No more talking money for me. Action. Expending and producing wisely is the point. Ask God for this wisdom.
    Gone to silence. Do not enter.

  8. The president has the majority in all the houses; so they can vote to do anything, anything, anything?
    That is how the african politic? Will they feel the need to give any reason?
    After the election, Min Tweah immediately thought his government must conduct elections (Bong & Montserrado, etc) in the country? I immediately knew we were at a deadend street in Liberia?
    Those are the experts around the president?

    Liberia honestly elected President George Weah. Therefore Liberian MuST enjoy his time in Office.
    Ofcoure the duty of the Oppositions is to make sure he runs the country per the constitution.
    Thank God we have the international communties looking at us.

    God bless Liberia.

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