Montserrado County Electoral District#8 Representative Acarous Moses Gray terms a car loan policy at the Central Bank of Liberia as direct conflict of interest, which contravenes the Code of Conduct signed into law.
A week ago, inside sources hinted this paper about a car loan scheme at the Central Bank, dubbed as “car loan bonanza” in which the Bank loaned out 300,000 to each governor for the purpose of vehicle.
However, CBL head of communications, Cyrus Wleh Badio, denied having knowledge of a fleet of new cars being purchased for senior governors under the scheme.
Mr. Badio wrote in a clarification emailed to The New Dawn last week, “… In any case, I am not aware of the purchase of a fleet of new cars for senior governors of the CBL. What I do know is that the CBL, like other entities, has in place a car loan scheme under which employees can request a loan, which if approved can be secured with payment terms spelt out.”
In a subsequent press release, he says the Central Bank of Liberia, has in place a car loan scheme/policy, which began in 2013, for its senior staff to buy their own cars with repayment over a maximum five-year period.
“This has been a cost-effective measure to mitigate the high maintenance cost of assigned bank vehicles”, he argues, and says the Central Bank of Liberia challenges the New Dawn Newspaper to produce evidence.
But appearing on the ‘Truth Breakfast Show’ on Wednesday, February 21, Representative Gray says the House Committee on Banking and Finance headed by Montserrado District#16 Representative Dixon W. Seboe has been mandated by Plenary to probe the loan policy at the Central Bank.
He says institutional policies are subject to the laws of Liberia and wonders whether the exercise is in-house lending at the CBL. “We are not accusing the governors of stealing money, but we need justification”, the CDC lawmaker stresses.
“I believe it is for the government to make the determination; the government money does not come to you, but it goes to the vendors.” He also emphasizes the need to set a general ceiling for amount to be spent on vehicles for public officials as part of the CDC-led government’s pro-poor agenda.
Representative Gray discloses that the government thru the 54th Legislature would shortly recast the national budget to set priority areas in line with the unfolding agenda.
CBL head of communication Badio, who called on Wednesday’s talk show, claims the total package of the current loan scheme is not up to US$300,000, saying “This is money you have to pay back; it is not free.”
Rep. Gray however insists that the committee will subpoena all relevant documents associated the scheme to establish the facts. “We believe that there are still unanswered questions”, he notes.
For his part, committee chair Rep. Seboe puts it bluntly that the CBL is not a commercial bank, rather, it is a lender of last resort, and should not be lending money to individuals, a task ascribed to commercial banking institutions.
By Jonathan Browne