Controversies Hit House Of Representatives Over Printing Of New Banknotes

Controversies have beclouded the House of Representatives on the printing of new banknotes in order to boost the economy and create a smooth floor of cash through the economy.

Lawmakers within the Lower House of the National Legislature argued that the process leading to the printing of new money must be observed with consciousness in the best interest of the Liberian people.

The Lawmakers argument was due to a communication from the Chief Executive Pres. George Weah pleading the need to print new banknotes to address the current inflation rate and effect of the harsh economy.

Article 34 (d) (i) of the Liberian Constitution 1986 gives the Legislature the full approval power for economic matters and the printing of money with stronger security features. Article 34 d (i) states all revenue bills, whether subsidies, charges, imports, duties or taxes and other financial bills, shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills. No other financial charge shall be established, fixed or laid or levied on any individual, community or locality under any pretext whatsoever except by the expressed consent of the individual, community, or locality. In all such cases, a true and correct account of funds collected shall be made to the community or locality”.

Pres. Weah communication indicated that based on the advice of the Central Bank Governor that the economy may be seriously affected due to the unaccounted local currency infused in the economy which is causing high inflation rates.

“In view thereof, I have advised the Executive Governor to seek the opportunity to discuss this matter with you and your appropriate committees as you will dictate. It is my fervent hope that you can agree on the way forward to enable the Central Bank of Liberia to move forward in a timely manner to conclude arrangements for printing of the currency”, Pres. Weah Communication furthered.

For Nimba County Lawmaker Rep. Larry Younquoi, the printing of new banknotes to replace entirely the current banknotes, should not be made hastily by the Legislature as there should be consultations made in order to not have a repeat of the missing billions saga.

In an amendment to a motion by Hon. Johnson Gwaigolo of Nimba County, Rep. Younquoi indicated that “taking into account that the printing of new banknotes is crucial, it will not take the days, weeks or so, we need adequate time to discuss and relate to our people”.

Rep. Younquoi amendment spoke to the postponement of discussion surrounding the printing of new banknotes for the country. “This is not a rush for us, let it be postponed till after our Christmas break to have enough time to deliberate on the subject matter because we do not want a repeat of the missing billion saga”.

His amendment was buttressed by Grand Bassa County Lawmaker Vicent S.T. Willie II that the committee on Security at the Lower House be added to ensure that security features on the printing of the new banknotes are secured.

Those amendments to Rep. Gwaigolo’s motion were denied as plenary voted to send Pres. Weah Communication to committees on Banking and Currency, Ways, Means and Finance to report on Monday, September 24, 2019, on way forward concerning the printing of the new banknotes.

“Giving the crucial nature, cost and benefit analysis of the nature of the matter, I move that if I can be seconded that the communication is sent to Committees on Banking and Currency, Ways, Means and Finance to report on Monday, September 24, 2019”, Rep. Gwaigolo stated.

In Early 2018, news broke over missing billions intended to boost the economy and ensure cash floor and balance the inflation rate. The money in the tone of 16Billion was reportedly misappropriated by some members of the government, Legislature and the Central Bank of Liberia.

In mid-September 2018, Pres. George Weah constituted an investigative committee including the ministry of Justice, National Security Agency, Forensic Investigation Unit among others. Later faith-based, religious, Civil Society organizations and student groups were named to form part of the investigative team.

Huge Controversies engulfed government’s arm of information as to the figure being printed and that of the CBL own account of the missing money. Governor Nathaniel Patray indicated that there was absolutely no money missing from the country as it is being alleged and investigated by the government.

CBL governor Nathaniel Patray indicated that the Central Bank had concluded its internal assessment of money printed and brought into the country between the period of 2016-2018 and that the bank has no record of any monies printed under its authority has not yet been delivered into its reserve vaults.

However, Governor Partay clarified that contrary to Min. Eugene Nagbe’s assertion that monies were printed in several countries, records from the Swedish firm contracted to print the money Crane shows that the company delivered L$15.5 billion through the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport during the period.

The Legislature in several press conferences by its members mentioned that there were no resolutions signed to order such printing of 15billion as stated by the CBL.

Several public hearings of individual and institutions linked were held by the Legislature and findings were presented to Pres. Weah.

Condemnations came from youth groups and civil society organizations over the delay in accounting for the missing billions.

CUCUMBUMB, ‘bring back our money’ campaigners staged a huge protest in Monrovia calling on international partners to place a sanction on the Liberian government until reports into the missing money are made available.

The Presidential Investigative Committee was setup by President Weah. The Committee soon delivers its report and indicated that there was no money missing but the Central Bank of Liberia had procedure errors and printed excess of what was contracted with the company.

Pundits believe that the reoccurrence of the 16billion saga will resonate the issues of mistrust and corruption on the part of the current administration, as such they recommended that measures must be put in place to ensure due diligence and the right process is followed.

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