Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah was emphatic on Wednesday when he told listeners who want him held for everything wrong within the Liberian economy that he is not responsible for the country’s monetary policy.
“I am responsible for the fiscal policy and expenditure side. I am not responsible for the monetary policy,” Tweah told host T-Max Jlatah on his 50/50 show Wednesday January 6.
Tweah has been blamed for most of the monetary decisions under the George Weahs regime. Prominent is the USD25 million mop up money that was intended to bring about some stability between the Liberian Dollar which was in a free fall against the United States Dollars as prices skyrocketed.
Though he has in the past provided several explanations about his role and the role of the Economy Management Team (EMT), which he did chaired many still believe that he personally went about allegedly distributing the money through the non-traditional channels instead of the commercial banks and therefore took upon himself the role of the Monetary Policy Chief.
The infusion of the USD$25 million is still being regarded here as a flop.
But Tweah noted that it was unfortunate that many of the people who have accused him of his personal involvement have failed to read the Kroll report, a report which details how the money was infused and those directly responsible: “All they say is Samuel Tweah took money to distribute.”
He explained that what many of his critics have failed to understand is that the Central Bank which is part of the EMT had advised that when the money goes to the commercial bank it won’t have yielded the desire result, which was to get it out there into people’s hands, rather it would have required debit and credit processes for depositors and that would have defeated the purpose.
Therefore Tweah opined that the CBL Board advised the EMT to use these money exchange bureaus that were within communities for the infusion process, which intent was to take the physical cash from the homes. “Samuel Tweah saw no physical money other than reports,” he said claiming that the result have seen a drop in the exchange rate.
On the 16 billion
Regarding the “missing 16 billion” Tweah explained that he took upon himself to explain to the Liberian people that the money wasn’t missing because the allegation was causing too much confusion in the country and had the potential to undermine his own government.
He said he provided the explanation in his capacity as a patriotic citizen and not taking upon himself the role of a Monetary Policy chief, which is the Central Bank Governor.
Tweah had claimed that no money was missing and that the money was outside the banking sector. The money, he noted was infused into the economy by the CBL through the commercial banks.
He declined to say people were hauling the money into their homes, rather he said it was due to fears that a business person who would need his/her money urgently won’t be able to get it in time.
However, he said the situation could change though when people begin to rebuild confidence in the banking sector as government work to reset the order.
He was quick to point out that the level of confidence will soon be back because there are some level of fiscal discipline in place and government is now putting in place the physical structure to manage the money.
On the bread and butter issues
Tweah said government is reducing the deficit and is trying to solve the structural problems. “We are working on salaries being current,” he said. Over all he noted that the Liberian economy is rebounding after some very difficult period-coronavirus and the macro-economy shocks.
But he also conceded though that Liberians have legitimate concerns about not being able to access money from the bank, the prices of commodities still being high despite a drop in the exchange rate.
To this he explained that government is working towards ensuring that the prices of commodities on the local market drop as well. “Inflation is coming down and we know the prices have to come down too.
The IMF recently credited the government for making some economy strides and project 3% growth rate for the country under these difficult circumstances.
By Othello B. Garblah