President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written members of the House of Representatives, seeking their indulgence for all government employees’ salaries to be paid in Liberian Dollars, including members of the Cabinet.
The President’s letter dated May 13, 2016 reads: “I wish to inform you that commencing with the end of this month, we may be constrained to increase the level of domestic expenditure in Liberian dollars and that this is likely to affect the salary payments for all employees of government. Currently, the level between the Liberian dollars and United States Dollars is 20 percent to 80 percent respectively for salaried presidential officials and uniform fifty percent for the general civil service.”
The presidential communication further explained that by this measure, the government will increase the ration for payment made in Liberian Dollars for salaries, goods and services, including payments to contractors and lessors.
President Johnson Sirleaf pointed out that reason for the decision is that as the government approaches end of the fiscal year, the level of intake in Liberian Dollars has increased. “This is also due to the fact that it has become necessary to increase the sale of United States Dollars to the Central Bank of Liberia to restore their reserves to the required target level as agreed with the International Monetary Fund,” the letter added.
Meanwhile, the plenary of the House of Representatives has forwarded the President’s communication to its Committee on Banking and Currency to come up with an advice within two weeks. The Liberian economy has been experiencing crisis since the country experienced the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in 2014. After Ebola the economy has not been able to overcome the shock, which has been further compounded by decline in the prices of commodities in the extractive industry –rubber, iron ore, and other natural resources, the major source of income for Liberia.
President Sirleafrecently requested the Liberian Legislature to endorse the printing of additional Liberian banknotes. In keeping with Article 34 (b) of the Liberian constitution, she has written members of the Legislature, requesting that body to invoke its constitutional powers to order the printing of banknotes.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne