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Citizens raise concerns about new banknotes

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The Central Bank of Liberia or CBL seems overwhelmed by citizens’ concerns about the printing of new Liberian banknotes, leaving several questions unanswered with doubts in the minds of Liberians who had gone to an awareness forum organized by the Bank.

The forum was held on Monday, August 1, at the Kakata Administrative Building in Margibi County on the new banknotes to be released in the market shortly. In keeping with article 34 (b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf few months ago wrote the Liberian Legislature, requesting the lawmakers’ approval to print additional banknotes to replace mutilated ones in the market.

The Plenary of the House of Representatives subsequently and overwhelmingly endorsed the request from the Executive, setting a ceiling of L$55 million.  A total of 30 representatives voted for the printing; two against, and two abstained, pending concurrence by the Liberian Senate.

As a result of this, the CBL has said it will within the next few months print and introduce the banknotes, disclosing that the current L$5, L$10, L$20, L$50, and L$100 denominations will be joined by a new L$500 bill.

The CBL says the money will be printed in more convenient and smaller sizes, while the L$5, L$10, and L$20 are expected to be in one size (133mm x66mm) and the L$50, L$100, and L$500 are also going to be the same but slightly longer (143mm x 66mm).

Accordingly, the Bank has started a nationwide forum aimed at explaining, amongst others, the significance of the notes and how they will be used, but some officials from the CBL, including the Deputy Director for Banking, Madam Miatta O. Kuteh, who arrived very late at the forum, could hardly answer certain questions posed by citizens, leaving them in doubts as they returned to their respective homes complaining.

The curious citizens asked how much of the new banknotes will be printed by the CBL; when exactly will the new money be placed into circulation and how much of the mutilated money has been withdrawn from the market, but these questions were left unanswered as the Bank cited security reasons.

Many citizens also blamed lawmakers here for concurring with the Executive to print the new banknotes without consulting their constituencies. They said if the lawmakers and the CBL had thought it necessary to get their views before agreeing for the printing of new banknotes, the current exercise would have been unnecessary.

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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