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CBL issues ultimatum

Amid the excess liquidity problem in the economy, exacerbated by rapid depreciation of the Liberian dollar with rising prices, the Central Bank of Liberia has announced effective today, Thursday, 19 July for forex bureau operators and vendors to halt exchanging money in the streets.

Making the pronouncement on Wednesday, 18 July in a meeting with hundreds of forex exchange operators and street vendors, the new Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Nathaniel Patray instructs licensed and non-license money exchangers to leave the streets immediately and move into forex bureax to serve the public.

The pronouncement comes barely two days after President George Manneh Weah addressed the nation on the current state of the economy and disclosed measures being taken by the government to address the many economic challenges in the short and long terms, including infusion of US$25 million in the market to mop up the excess liquidity.

The meeting with vendors was chaired by the government economic management team, comprised of the Ministers of State for Presidential Affairs, Finance and Development Planning, and the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, among others.

In a press release Wednesday, the Executive Mansion announced that government has succeeded in mopping out over $239 Million Liberian dollars excess liquidity out of the market.

“This signifies the President’s commitment to stabilise the economy through the implementation of stringent regulatory measures and strong monetary policies both short and long terms in addressing the current rapid depreciation of the Liberian dollar to the U.S. dollar,” the release reads.

The Mansion says it cannot emphasize enough how resolved and committed the President is, in addressing the current economic crisis Liberia is confronted with.

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Executive Governor Patray sternly warns that vendors risk arrest and their monies confiscated if they do not leave the streets and take their services into forex bureax.

He says individuals interested in doing money exchange business in the country should organize themselves into groups and open exchange bureax across the country.

The Executive Governor notes that there is nowhere in the world that people are permitted to do money transaction in the streets except in Liberia, which he says, harms the economy.

He assures that government through the Economy Management Team would do everything humanly possible to ensure that those who will comply with the mandate will enjoy certain privileges.

There was no definitive comment on the skyrocketing exchange rate in the country currently between 150 and 160 Liberian dollars to US$1.00.But Governor Patray adds that people engaged in the forex exchange and scratch cards businesses would be allowed to operate only in recognized and licensed exchange bureaus, promising that government will provide necessary assistance to enable them operation smoothly.

Also speaking, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel Tweah, says the worsening exchange rate could lead to instability in the country, pleading with money exchangers to cooperate with government as the Economy Management Team will continue to put in place measures to stabilize the economy.

Minister Tweah asks forex operators to assist government by exposing unscrupulous individuals involved in counterfeiting and keeping huge sum of Liberian dollars in private homes.

The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill says government’s aim is to reduce pressure on the reserves and make sure the Liberian dollar is very strong.

He says the rate will be determined now by the Central Bank rather than the market and asks money exchangers to cooperate.‘’Most of you, this is what you do for living, but we ask you to please cooperate and Liberia is bigger than every one of us and we can’t create condition that will hurt our citizens because of you have your family in the interior and this is the only way to survive, but at the same time you have to be law-abiding.”

By Emmanuel Mondaye & Bridgett Milton–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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