A Child Who Can’t Hear Will Feel!

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In traditional Liberian culture and should we say African culture, expressions are used to convey truths gained/learned from careful observation over centuries ago.

For example, the saying “to circumcise a chimpanzee is easy but who will hold it down to have it circumcised”? It simply means things are easier said than done.

Another favorite saying perhaps common to all ethnic groups goes like this “a child who can’t hear will feel”, meaning, a disobedient child always bears consequences. Another says… “never defecate on the path leading to the creek where you fetch drinking water”.

This is because when it rains, your feces will be transported straight to your source of drinking water and of course the consequences are obvious.

Put into context, we draw reference to the decision taken by the Legislature to print additional Liberian dollar bills as requested by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). The CBL argues that the printing of additional currency is intended to alleviate the current liquidity crunch.

That position has however come under fire from multiple fronts, all of which seem to fixed on a single issue. That issue is accountability for notes/currency already printed before authorizing the printing of new banknotes.

The case of the L$16 billion, which allegedly went missing but which government insisted never went missing, comes easily to mind.

Several top officials of the CBL, including its head and deputy, were criminally indicted in the wake of huge public outcry against the alleged disappearance of L$16 billion banknotes.

Some were even handcuffed and paraded around Monrovia in the back of a pickup. Another CBL official was killed in what Police said was a hit and run affair but, the public discounted this account, firm in the belief that the death of the CBL official was part of a coverup scheme.

Initially when the Hot Pepper newspaper sounded the alarm that newly printed Liberian dollar banknotes had gone missing, the Information Minister at the time responded admitting that banknotes which had indeed been printed and brought into the country had gone missing; at least some of it.

Then denials after denials followed. The expressed idea behind the printing of the banknotes was basically two-fold. One was to improve the liquidity situation and the second was to replace the mutilated legacy notes and mop up excess liquidity by infusing US$25 million to buy the excess cash believed to be held in private hands.

The infusion of the US$25 million was marred by fraud and, to date, the legacy notes still remain in circulation although they are mutilated.

Despite the criminal charges levied against CBL officials, eventually every one of those criminally charged got off the hook. No money went missing, period!

Since 2018 when it was first confirmed by Information Minister Eugene Nagbe that money did go missing, there have been two additional printing of banknotes all of which were intended to ease the liquidity crunch.

To the best of publicly available information, no accounts have been provided for the total amount of banknotes printed. Yet legislators have once again voted to pass a bill authorizing the printing of new and additional banknotes.

This situation has given rise to intense public speculation that inducements were offered. Some accounts say each member of the House of Representatives who voted to approve the bill received a brown envelope containing nineteen thousand (19,000) US dollars, while each senator who voted to approve received twenty-three thousand (23,000) US dollars.

However, a few senators and representatives are reported to have voted against the passage of the bill. And,  just about every legislator spoken to has since denied receiving inducements to pass the bill. The bill is now passed and the banknotes will be printed come hell or high water.

It would indeed be fitting were civil society including political parties to review the voting record of each legislator on this issue with the view to naming and shaming those who voted to approve the printing of new and additional banknotes in the absence of proper accountability for banknotes previously printed.

But sooner than later, the inflationary effects will be seen and felt by the ordinary Liberians, many of whom can barely afford a daily meal. And added to their miserable lot is the new voice and internet surcharges which came into effect as of April 1, 2021.

But those legislators who allegedly received brown envelopes to approve  the printing of new banknotes as well as those illegally holding vast amounts of LD banknotes will be the chief beneficiaries of this entire scheme according to economists and financial experts spoken to.

The Daily Observer has unfailingly and consistently warned that increased economic hardships being imposed on the people could serve to provoke social unrest and ultimately serve to undermine national stability.

From all indications, this government appears to be its own worst enemy by virtue of its very poor and corrupt management of public resources and the pursuit of tax policies that impose severe economic strain and burdens on the poorest of the poor.

The public rejection of such policies, according to pundits, were reflected in the vote count of the last senatorial elections and referendum.

Candidates of the ruling CDC received a shocking defeat in those elections and the referendum on proposed changes to the Constitution were also flatly rejected.

It is as if those elections are a precursor of what is to come in 2023 when incumbent President Weah is expected to make a second-term bid.

But given the current outlook, and cast against the backdrop of results of the last  December polls, a successful second-term quest may very well prove to be an illusive quest.

This is because it appears that, day by day and by the actions of its officials, this government has become its own worst enemy – its nemesis – so to speak. But, “a child who cannot hear will feel”, goes the old saying. True it was yesterday; true it is today and true it will be tomorrow.

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