President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Wednesday commissioned several newly appointed and confirmed officials of her cabinet with warning that they should be mindful, particularly urging Board of Governors of the Central Bank to de-politicize the autonomous agency.
“The issue of Central Bank autonomy is of special concern in Liberia because the governor of the Central Bank has greater autonomy than Central Banks governors in other countries. And it is much more difficult to take action should problems arise,” President Sirleaf said at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday evening.
Mrs. Sirleaf did not name any of her past or present officials, but her regime witnessed a longstanding controversy at the hands of the most recent former Central Bank Governor, Dr. Mills Jones, now a 2017
presidential hopeful who prior to leaving office made his quest for the Presidency.
Former Governor Jones ran a controversial loan scheme the catapulted him to stardom winning the hearts and minds of direct beneficiaries of his loan scheme, something which prompted him to think the presidency.
While commissioning Liberia’s new Finance Minister Boima Kamara, Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks and his deputies, Mrs. Sirleaf said in the context of recent experiences it was important to point to the importance of the role and responsibilities which they are to assume, “most [specifically] in reference to the Central Bank.”
Consistent with Central Banks all over the world, President Sirleaf observes, that the governor of the Central Bank of Liberia holds unique position among public officials because he or she can act with enormous independence and autonomy.
She cited an example that while the Ministry of Finance can only propose a budget [to] the Legislature each year on behalf of the President with substantial oversight from the people over how financial resources are used, she observes that “the Central Bank is not subject to” this system.
Citing Article 13 (iii) of the Central Bank of Liberia Act, President Sirleaf noted that a member of the board of governors can be removed from office only by impeachment by the Liberian Senate upon a finding by a majority of the board of governors and a recommendation to the President for any of the specified reasons.
“In other words, responsibility for oversight of members of the board rest with the members of the board themselves, and not with an independent body. I am citing these principles to re-emphasize the
importance of a Central Bank being de-politicized and its officials apolitical,” she said.
She said of equal importance is the fullest cooperation and coordination between the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning on the one hand; and the commercial banks and
other financial institutions.
Mrs. Sirleaf reminded the new officials that the performance of government including effective response to shocks can only be achieved with the collaboration, particularly the constraints
that are imposed by Liberia’s dual currency system.
“I urge you Minister Kamara and governors that as you take your oath of office today you remain mindful of the tremendous responsibilities that you will assume. Mindful that in these difficult economic and financial times we will depend upon your competence, your experience, and your integrity and your cooperation with each other,” she said.
Responding on behalf of the commissioned officials, Finance Minister Kamara thanked the President for the opportunity given them to serve, expressing commitment to serve with diligence. Mr. Kamara assured Liberia’s partners including the United States, China, Sweden and others, as well as Liberians that at the helm of authority of the Finance Ministry and Central Bank, he and his colleagues will ensure that the institutions will play a key role in shaping a micro-economic space that will ensure a better living standard for all.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah