Members of the Liberian Senate have rejected the requested for printing of new Liberian banknotes by the Executive through the Central Bank of Liberia.Addressing the official closing of the 54th session of the Liberian Senate Friday, October 04 in the chambers at the Capitol, Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie explained that senators raised, among others, concerns of proper internal controls at the Central Bank as was indicated in the Kroll Report, including confidence factor and source of the US$31 Million being requested to pay for the printing of the new banknotes.
Pro-Tempore Chie, a stalwart of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change notes that after extensive debates, the Liberian Senate has declined to give the requested authorization, pending full restructuring of the CBL.
According to him, the Senate also took note of the necessity to print new banknotes to replace all existing ones, particularly given that approximately 86 percent of notes currently in circulation is out of the banking system, amid reports of counterfeit Liberian banknotes on the market besides significant amount of mutilated banknotes termed in Liberian parlance as ‘tear-tear’.
Recently, the Senate received a request from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) through President George Manneh Weah, for authorization to print 35 billion new Liberian Dollars in coins and notes to replace the existing currency.
Highlighting activities for the 54th session, Senator Chie reports the Senate concurred with the House of Representatives in passing the national budget at US$526 million, a significant decrease over the 2018/2019 national budget.
“It is our belief that this is a realistic budget that can be executed predictably and efficiently to prevent or minimize the perennial problem of budget short-fall,” he explains.
He says the budget will also facilitate acceptance of the country into program of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which could eventually bring much more benefits.
He adds that the annual wage bill in the budget was capped at approximately US$297 million, with very much difficulty.
“We want to thank the public sector workers of this Country for their understanding with the salary harmonization process; by this process, the salaries of some of our public servants were reduced, some were raised, and some were untouched,” Pro-Tempore Chie explains.
He says realizing the current economic situation faced by the Country, coupled with sacrifices of civil servants and the importance of joining the IMF program, the senate has approved the cutting of its budget by approximately 30 percent, and plenary has accordingly mandated the Chairman on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, Bomi County Senator Morris Saytumah, to provide details of said budgetary adjustment.
“We wish to assure our citizens that the Senate will work along with the House of Representatives and the other branches of Government for prompt actions that will help stabilize the economy which has been struggling since the Ebola outbreak.”
Meanwhile, the 54th Legislature has approximately passed 60 bills, including 45 from the Senate 15 from the House of Representatives, respectively.
Senator Chie also details a financing agreement between the Government of Liberia (GOL) and the ECOWAS Bank in the tone of US$50 million to construct a segment of road from Barclayville, Grand Kru County to Klowein, Sinoe County in southeast Liberia. This project is the beginning of a network of roads planned for that part of the Country that has not benefited from infrastructural development for many, many years.
He names two incentive agreements for the construction of two cement plants and another incentive agreement for a flour mill, which will help in jobs creation.
At the same time Sen. Chie says three constitutional propositions are underway for national referendum in October 2020, including, Dual Citizenship, reduction in the tenure of the Presidency, and members of the Liberian Legislature, and adjustment in the date of general elections from October to November. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor –Editing by Jonathan Browne