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Speaker Chambers confirms Liberia is broke

House Speaker Bhofal Chambers joins President George Manneh Weah in claiming the country is broke despite disclosure last week of US$17m in the national coffers by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

Speaker Chambers on Friday, 2 March confirmed to reporters at the Capitol that the country is broke, a day after the House of Representatives invited state financial institutions, including the Central Bank of Liberia, the Liberia Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to give account of the country’s financial standing.

He maintains the country has money problem, noting that presently a recast budget is ongoing. Chambers says President George M. Weah did not make any mistake when he said the country was broke during his first state of the nation address.

He says as Speaker of the 54th Legislature, he’s going to promote the “Pro- Poor Agenda in a positive way, saying the process has started to rebrand the Legislature.
Chambers, who is from the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) notes that there are certain things that have to be discussed in executive session, and there are certain things the new lawmakers need to know, thus, requiring them to go into executive sessions when it is necessary.

His comments come after Lawmakers in the House of Representatives appeared unwilling to disclose the current financial status of the country after last week Thursday’s executive session with heads of three key government’s financial institutions here.

The House had Tuesday, February 27, 2018 invited the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Milton Weeks, the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, and the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel Tweah to appeal before plenary and state clearly the financial health of the country.

But the hearing, which had been expected to be public, was conducted in executive session away from the press, lasting for several hours.However, Legislative Reporters Thursday pressed Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs Samora Wolokollie, after the executive session and asked him whether former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was not saying the truth about leaving behind US$150m in reserves.

Samora replies that he could not say definitively ex-president Sirleaf lied. However, he discloses that the total amount of money they received as of 31st January 2018 is about US$17m, noting that reserves do not produce liquidity, and liquidity speaks of what is available at a point and particular time, so he could not say it was a lie or not, but the fact speaks for itself.

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By Bridgett Milton–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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