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Editorial: Show Transparency CBL, GOL!

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The Central Bank of Liberia or CBL recently authorized the printing of unspecified new Liberian Dollar banknotes, bearing the signature of the Minister of Finance, Augustine Ngafuan for circulation ahead of the festive season.

Up to the publication of this paper’s front page lead story on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 under the headline: How Much Did CBL print?, the bank is yet to make known to the Liberian people the amount of new notes it printed, as well as put into circulation.

Unconfirmed report suggests that the untimely authorization of the circulation of the unspecified amount on the market by Deputy CBL Governor may have led him to an administrative leave running more than a month now, something the Liberian Chief Executive, President Ellen Sirleaf has chosen to handle quietly.

The printing of additional unspecified amount, we are told, was intended to remove millions of mutilated Liberian Bank notes in circulation, replacing them with the new ones in various denominations.

With the new notes currently in circulation, concerns are mounting and questions are being asked as to how much of the mutilated Liberian Bank notes were/are being destroyed under the auspices of the Central Bank and supervised by top brass of the national joint security, as authorized by law.

We are very cognizant of the fact that legally, the CBL has the right to undertake the exercise of printing bank notes when it deems it necessary, but should provide the appropriate authorities such as the National Legislature with the necessary information.

Perhaps President Pro-tempore, Cletus Wotorson and House Speaker Alex Tyler both of the ruling Unity Party may have been  informed, with such information disseminated to standing committee members  of both houses by the two Unity Party stalwarts, but the public remains unknowledgeable.

Critics of the government are even questioning the timing of the printing of additional Liberian Bank notes, especially so when the government and the CBL continue to remain tightlipped on the amount released in circulation following the destruction of the mutilated ones.

We are of the belief that such action further raises eye-brows, as to the main motive(s), most especially with Presidential and Legislative elections due next year. The head of communications at the CBL, Craton Duncan attributed the action to international best practices, which forbid the bank from revealing such information to the public, noting that there was nowhere in the world that the amount of money printed has been disclosed, something with which we beg to differ.

For Mr. Duncan to have even cited the United States and other West African countries as examples, in our mind, was the worst and most contemptuous lie ever told in Liberia. Just recently, the Cable News Network or CNN showed how several States in the United States were authorized to print specified amount of banknotes for infusion into their economies. And we openly challenge the Central Bank or its Communication Officer to dispute this.

While we and other well-meaning Liberians do not question the decision by the Central Bank and the Government at large, we do also believe that the people of Liberia have the right to be informed by those who govern them about such major economic matter, which also directly affects them.

It is, therefore incumbent upon the CBL and the government of Liberia to tell the Liberian people, the total amount of reprinted banknotes, the amount currently in circulation, as well as mutilated banknotes withdrawn from the economy. We think, for transparency and accountability purposes, it is not too late to make such disclosure.

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