Request by President George M. Weah to the Senate to approve the infusion of L$4 billion in the Liberian economy has received mixed reactions from members of the House of Representatives, with some opposition lawmakers including Montserrado County lawmaker Yekeh Kolubah describing it as an “Error” that brings disgrace to the country.
The communication from the Liberian leader said: “Honorable President Pro-Tempore, while we are aware that the Legislature is currently deliberating on pressing national issues, including finalizing deliberations on authorization to the Center Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print a new set of Liberian Dollar banknotes, the existing situation presents a volatile financial environment such that the current Liberian dollar vault cash position of the CBL is very inadequate to meet both current and future Liberian dollar liquidity demand of commercial banks, posing a potential security risk.
The letter continued, “Therefore, in the interest of national security and to enable our people celebrate the festive season in a joyous way, I request the legislature, in accordance with Article 34(d)(ii) of the constitution of the Republic of Liberia, to authorize the Central Ban of Liberia to infuse the amount of L$4.0 Billion into the Liberian economy to ease the current liquidity pressure,” president in his communication said.
President Weah’s communication has had a rough landing at the legislature, as some members have given their opposition to the printing or infusion of an additional L$4 billion on the Liberian market.
Representative Kolubah in his usually critical stance, emphasized that as the President had earlier requested the Legislature to approve the printing of L$35 billion banknotes, they are still in the process of discussing the issue and he (President Weah) is coming out with another request of infusing L$4 billion in the economy; something he said implies that without legislative approval the Executive had gone ahead to print the money.
Representative Kolubah stressed that the Executive is just demonstrating formality to present itself to the country that it is following constitutional protocol, but in reality the Legislature is taken for granted. It can be recalled that when report about the arrival of millions of dollars surfaced in the public space, Representative Kolubah was the first to state publicly that if the money brought did not meet the Legislature’s approval, it will be considered “Money laundering.”
Following that, Representative Kolubah also displayed several pieces of the L$500 banknotes recently when he had gone to the Guaranty Trust Bank to withdraw his August salary that the government was owing. He wondered how and from where the new banknotes came when the government had said that there was no money in the country and commercial banks were out of the Liberian dollars. By this, he accused President George Weah of not working in the interest of the country but carrying out what he Kolubah calls “4-1-9” operation.
Rep. Seboe, in a contrary view to the argument, said that the President is only seeking permission to print the current Liberian dollar banknote to help alleviate the current situation.
“You do not need permission to infuse money in the economy, the President is requesting us to first give the approval to print the money before infusion,” he said. The Montserrado County District #16 Representative’s view, however, contradicts content of the letter sent to the Senate by the President and seems to be conceding with others who claim that infusion of money into the economy is a sole prerogative of the Central Bank of Liberia.
Earlier, Montserrado County District #4 Representative, Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis, had described the request as “Erroneous and an embarrassment” to the entire country.
On the question of whether or not there was a procedural error on the part of the President to seek permission from the Senate rather than the House to print money, the District 16 lawmaker said: “There was no procedural error with that. The letter was sent to us, but the Speaker did not put it on the floor for discussion. Even if the Senate reaches a decision and we at the House of Representatives do not agree, the money will not be printed”.
Reliable sources in the House of Representatives say that the Speaker identified the error in the President’s communication, something that made him not place it on the floor for deliberation.