President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written members of the Liberian Senate, requesting for the printing of more Liberian banknotes to augment the current ones in circulation. The President intimated in her communication addressed to the Senate President Pro- Tempore Armah Jallah that she had received two separate communications from the former Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia or CBL, Dr. Mills Jones, and now the acting Executive Governor, Charles Sirleaf, who happens to be her son, stating that the economy may be seriously affected due to lack of local currency to meet national transactional needs.
The President indicated her communication read in senate session Thursday that the underlying reason for the delay that led this crisis has to do with the interpretation of Article 34, (d) of the Constitution of Liberia, and of the Act to Authorize the Establishment of the Central bank of Liberia as amended.
Article 34, (d) of the Constitutionstates: “to levy taxes, duties, imports, exercise and other revenues, to borrow money, issue currency, mint coins, and to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic, subject to the following qualifications.
“While the decision needs to be made now to address this issue that impacts the economy, it is important to note that the printing of Notes will require a period of some five months”, the President’s letter reminded.
It continues, “Essentially, as conveyed by the letters from the Governors referred to above, the Central Bank of Liberia is of the opinion that by the Article referred to above, the Legislature has granted implicit approval to the CBL to issue local currency. I believe that the Legislature has registered a contrary view. These issues of interpretation should be resolved at an appropriate time, preferably sooner than later.”
The Chief Executive said she had advised her son, Acting Executive Governor Charles Sirleaf to seek the opportunity to discuss the matter with the senate and its various committees as the lawmakers will dictate, saying “I hope that you can agree on the way forward to enable the CBL to move forward in a timely manner to conclude arrangements for printing of the currency.”
But the submission of the communication to the Liberian Senate may contravene Article 34 (i) of the Constitution of Liberia, which clearly 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, 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.
Meanwhile, the communication has been forwarded to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency for proper advisement to plenary within two weeks.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Jonathan Browne