Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister tells the Senate here that 17.1 billion Liberians Dollars are currently in circulation across the country after he disputed the alleged missing of 16 billion Liberian banknotes printed and brought into the country.
Minister Samuel Tweah was thrown out of that august body last week in his first appearance after he confused senators with complicated graphs and lectures about the country’s economic and financial health.
Appearing at the Capitol before full plenary of the Liberian Senate on Tuesday, November 13, Minister Tweah discloses that the Liberian government currently has 17.1 billion Liberian dollars in circulation and the rest are being mopped up by the Central Bank of Liberia in consultation with the government’s Economic Management Team to control the local currency against the United States dollars.
He says the essence of the mopping up strategy is to reduce influx and surplus of local currency in the market, which has been a major contributing factor for the skyrocketing exchange rate between the Liberian dollar and the United States dollar.
When asked by Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper to clearly state how much of the Liberian dollars is on the market, he says the government is battling to control the Liberian dollars against the U.S. dollar as vendors dictate the exchange rate.
Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay complains of commercial banks reportedly refusing to release huge sum of Liberian dollars on grounds that there is limited local currency in the country.
But Tweah cleverly evades the question and instead, says the government had used US$15 million from the US$25 million announced by President George Manneh Weah to mop up the excessive local currency.
Over dozen Senators last Tuesday, November 7, made public their strong disagreement over a three-page report from the Economic Management Team (EMT) on the state of the economy; the alleged missing 16 billion LRD and the status of the infusion of the supposed US$25 million into the economy to strengthen the Liberian dollar.
The angry lawmakers, including Senators Thomas Grupee, Matthew Jaye, Varney Sherman, Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, Henrique Tokpa, J. Gbleh-bo Brown and Dan Morais, complained the report lacked detailed explanations on the specifics about the economy, but instead, was filled with financial graphs which they do not comprehend to interpret to their various constituents, who elected them.
Meanwhile, the Economic Management Team was sent back to properly prepare and reappear next Tuesday. At Yesterday’s appearance, the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Mr. Nathaniel Patray, did not show up, neither did he sent a representative, thereby making the presentation challenging for the entire team.
Both Minister Tweah and Executive Governor Patray maintain no 16 billion is missing, saying all moneys printed and brought into the country are in the vaults of the CBL and in circulation.
A Presidential Investigative Team is probing the missing 16 billion besides forensic investigators hired by USAID to conduct a scoping mission that could ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing currency in Liberia and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed. Editing by Jonathan Browne