President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has disclosed here that the Central Bank of Liberia experienced operational losses during last fiscal period but is in the process of implementing corrective measures.
She calls on the Bank to institute measures to ensure that well-intentioned microfinance loans amounting to L$644.1 million (equivalent to US$7.2 million) granted to savings and loans clubs are repaid fully.
Addressing the 5th Session of the Liberian Legislature Monday at the Capitol Building, President Sirleaf noted the Gross reserves equivalent to 2.7 months of imports rose by 5.4 percent to US$560.6 million, compared to US$532.3 million in 2014.
CBL Executive Governor Dr. Jones introduced the micro-loan scheme to empower ordinary Liberians, but the exercise has received serious criticisms in many quarters, including members of the Legislature who called for an audit of the Bank.
Some believe Governor Jones had introduced the loan scheme as means of promoting his political ambition ahead of the 2017 presidential election. The Governor has already founded a political party, the Liberia Economic Empowerment Party to propel him for the presidency though he has not made an official declaration of his intent to vie for the nation’s highest seat.
The President further noted that the Liberian economy is under serious stress, and disclosed that government will cut its expenditure programs in order to save for the difficult period ahead. She called on her officials to reduce travels and those officials who may have to travel on urgency would be required to fly in economic class instead of business as part of the cost-saving measures.
She called on Liberians and employees of government to tighten their belt as the country grapples with the economic meltdown. In an apparent effort to solidify the austerity measures, President Sirleaf said her office will submit pre-financial bill to the Legislature for possible enactment.
Senator Peter Coleman of Grand Kru County told the plenary of the Liberian Senate recently that the current Fiscal Year 2015/16 National Budget is faced with a shortfall of US$70 million, which means some budgetary items will have to be swapped or dropped to suit today’s realities.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor –Edited by Jonathan Browne