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Lawmaker wants more clarity on US25m

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Montserrado County District #10 Rep. Yekeh Kolubah is requesting the House of Representatives through written communication to invite Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray to state the source of authority for the withdrawal of US$25 million from Liberia’s reserves.

In the communication dated 7 March, Rep. Kolubah requests the House to invite the two officials before plenary to say why they proceeded in ways that allegedly undermine the principles of checks and balances provided for under Liberia’s Constitution.

According to Rep. Kolubah, his communication is intended to draw his colleagues’ attention to the ongoing debates surrounding the US$25 million that was withdrawn from the country’s reserves to mop – up excess legacy notes from the money market to curtail the rising money exchange rate.

Finance Minister Tweah chaired a Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) that spearheaded the controversial US$25m mop – up exercise, with the CBL Executive Governor Patray as co-chair.

Afterwards the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) finds that the TEMT and CBL carried out direct mop – up process by engaging some foreign exchange bureaus and some local businesses other than the commercial banks.

According to the PIT, the TEMT and CBL sold a total of US$14m in exchange for a total of L$2,151,363,898.00 between the periods July 17, 2018 to September 18, 2018.

Since the arrests, indictments and detentions of five CBL officials for their alleged roles in Liberia’s 16 billion scandal, President George Manneh Weah has been facing public pressure to ensure that other suspects, including Minister Tweah and Executive Governor Patray are questioned how the US$25m was used in the mop-up exercise, which was conducted outside the banking system.

The calls for their investigation result from report by the PIT which determines that the TEMT and CBL deviated from the conventional best practice in the mop – up exercise.

But President Weah’s mandate for the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to audit the US$25m is further being rejected by four opposition parties, claiming that it is intended to circumvent and shield from prosecution, his confidants Tweah and Patray.

Meanwhile Rep. Kolubah says while the debates have generally focused on accountability for the amount, he would like to draw his colleagues’ attention to what he sees as a missing link that borders on the source of authority for the borrow or withdrawal of the US$25 million from the reserves.

He argues that Article 34(d) of the Constitution gives authority to the Legislature to levy taxes, duties, imports, excise and other revenues, borrow money , issue currency, mint coins and to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic.

Meanwhile Rep. Kolubah’s communication was not put on the agenda for Tuesday, March 12 to be discussed.
By Bridgett Milton –Edited by Winston W. Parley

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