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House probes new banknotes

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The House of Representatives has mandated its Standing Committee on Banking and Currency to investigate the new banknotes being displayed in local media alerts by the Central Bank of Liberia or CBL for prompt response from Plenary.

The committee headed by Montserrado County Representative Julius Berrien has been given to weeks to gather findings on the new banknotes being introduced by the CBL headed by Executive Governor Milton Weeks.

The plenary of the House took the decision based on a communication from Maryland County Representative Isaac Roland, dated August 4, 2016.  The communication reads: “I present my esteemed compliments and write to bring to your attention the outwardly disrespect to the authority of the House of Representatives by the Central Bank of Liberia in the matter arising out of the printing of Liberian Bank notes in higher denomination to replace mutilated ones.”

Representative Roland reminded his colleagues they we have never authorized the printing of new banknotes in higher denomination, saying, “By this action, CBL has chosen to usurp our function which is inimical to the governance process of this Republic.”

He therefore requested that in the wake of the fragrant violation of the laws, and the audacious disrespect exhibited by the CBL in this matter; plenary should summon Executive Governor Weeks and his deputies to appear before the august body to give reasons why such action was taken without the House’s authorization.

Roland recounted that during deliberations with officials of CBL on the replacement of mutilated banknotes, the Bank did explain the need to replace mutilated banknotes to enhance the liquidity of the local currency on the domestic market.

He further explained authorities at the Bank sought authorization to do same for which their request was approved, saying “However, to my consternation and that of many of our compatriots, contrary to what was authorized, the CBL is currently carrying on an educational campaign to showcase a new Liberian Bank Note in the higher denomination of five hundred (500). They have publicly stated their intention to put this new bank note in circulation soon.”

“It is my conviction that by this action, we will provide the necessary checks and balances needed to protect the interest of our people and this nation”, the letter concluded.  On July 27, the CBL announced that in keeping with its statutory mandate to at all times ensure the integrity of the Liberian Dollar is uncompromisingly maintained, it will shortly introduce a new series of banknotes into the Liberian economy.

This new series includes, among others, the unifying nature of the existing Liberian Banknotes, and as such, has maintained all previous portraits. The CBL has also reinforced the security features in the new series, which are both visible and invisible. In addition, the Bank has ensured that the new series is printed on a higher quality substrate to guarantee longevity and reduce porosity. The new series also introduces a new denomination of L$500 (Five Hundred Dollars), in addition to the present denominations.

In 2000, the CBL introduced the new Liberian Dollar bank notes as a unified currency to replace the old “J.J.” banknotes. Since its introduction in the economy, the Liberian banknotes have undergone minor technical redesign and security feature enhancements. All this is geared towards maintaining public confidence and at the same time deterring fraud and counterfeiting besides tackling the two major risk issues associated with banknote lifespan: soiling and porosity, the Bank said.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Editing by Jonathan Browne

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