— Senators Dillon, Lawrence, Naatehn, Sogbie, Zargo and Kaipay take exception
Eighteen (18) Senators of the 4th Session of the 54th Legislature, through a resolution, have voted to concur with the House of Representatives to grant the Central Bank of Liberia the authorization to print L$48.734 billion of new family banknotes to replace the legacy banknotes.
Those voting for the printing include Senators Saah H. Joseph, Montserrado; J. Milton Teahjay, Sinoe; Albert T. Chie, Grand Kru; Numene Bartekwa, Grand Kru; J. Gbleh-bo Brown, and James Biney, Maryland; H. Varney G. Sherman, Grand Cape Mount; Jim Tornolah, Margubi; Conmany B Wesseh, River Gee; and Emmanuel Nuquay, Margibi Counties. Also voting concurrence are Senators Prince Moye, Bong; Zoe Emmanuel Pennue, Grand Gedeh; Henrique Tokpa, Bong; Francis Saturday Paye, River Cess; Prince Y. Johnson, Nimba; Morris Saytumah, Bomi; Edwin Melvin Snowe, Bomi; and A. Marshall Dennis, Grand Gedeh Counties.
At the end of December 2020, the total stock of Liberia dollars supply in the economy stood at L$25,257,000.00, banknotes representing 99.9% of the total stock, while coins accounted for L$23,50,000 representing 0.1%of the current stock. According to the resolution, the Central Bank of Liberia has informed the Legislature that the total cost for printing the L$48,734,000.00 is US$45,522,000; and that due to constraints posed by the International Monetary Fund, External Credit Facility program benchmarks, the CBL can only provide US$21 million as part of the printing cost, and has requested the government of Liberia to fund the deficit of US$24,522,000 plus US$5 million as cost of logistics, making a total deficit of US$29,522,000.
The CBL, according to the Senate resolution, has informed that body the lapses pointed out in the Kroll and special investigative team report, especially that there is little or no internal control and operational procedures at the CBL as related to receiving, keeping and distributing of funds has been adequately addressed by the Bank.
The resolution also announced the CBL’s compliance with the Legislature and has now submitted its report on how the L$4 billion printed in 2020 was infused into the economy and has submitted written responses to additional queries and concerns raised during the hearings. “Now therefore, in accordance with the above, the Legislature comprising the Senate and House of Representatives, hereby authorizes the CBL to print new family of currency in the amount of L$48,734,000.00 as requested, subject to the conditions that: the denominations to be printed shall be L$20, L$50, L$100 and L$500, and the denominations to be minted in coins shall be L$5, and L$10; that the CBL shall ensure that the printing of the banknotes and minting of coins be undertaken in 2021 and 2022, and that there shall not be printing and minting in 2023.
The resolution further requests that the CBL ensures there is adequate logistics in place to manage the currency reform process; the CBL shall develop a currency management strategy with reform and strong internal control system; and that the Bank ensures an internal and external financial assistance audit as well as risk-mitigating measures to safeguard the reform process.
With respect to measures and precedents needed for the replacement of currencies, the CBL is mandated to notify the Legislature of the actual volume and value of currency printed and imported into the country at every interval from 2021 to 2022; that the replacement shall only be done through the CBL, commercial banks and designated financial institutions, regulated and supervised by the CBL with strict and monitoring by the CBL.
The first volume of printed currency shall be in excess of L$26 billion to accommodate the complete replacement of the present total stock of Liberian dollar currency; and that the CBL shall make the relevant adjustments in the total volume to be printed, the cost of printing and the amount, less printing cost, considering that L$1,000 is not to be printed. At the same time according to resolution, the CBL shall arrange with the printers, appropriate payment plans considering the budget of the Bank, and that plans shall be done with the involvement of Legislative committees responsible accordingly, and that the Legislature ensures that additional funding required for the full replacement is made available through budgetary appropriations.
Meanwhile, following the reading of the resolution, Senator Teahjay, one of the eighteen signatories for concurrence, proffered a motion that “The resolution so read be accepted, adopted and approved as the authorization of the Central Bank of Liberia to proceed with the printing of the Liberian dollars family of banknotes as contained in the resolution. However, dramatically, even though Senator Dillon attempted firstly to announced a motion of unreadiness and reconsideration, Senator Zoe Emmanuel Pennue was recognized instead with a not-to-follow motion for reconsideration.
Meanwhile, attempts to have the certificated Senators of Gbarpolu, and River Cess, Madam Botoe Kanneh and Wellington Geevon Smith was thwarted by Montserrado County Senator Saah H Joseph, citing a Senate rule stipulating that documents to be voted on by plenary, shall be distributed among Senators a day prior to its sitting. The two certificated Senators will have to wait until the Senate resumes sitting after the two-week Easter break which started yesterday.