By Bridgett Milton
Authorities at the Central Bank of Liberia have informed members of the House of Representatives that the CBL did not give any figure to former President George M. Weah or President Joseph N. Boakai about the national reserves or money left in the government consolidated account by the Weah administration.
The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Aloysious Tarlue tells lawmakers here that as of 19 January 2024, total balance in the Government of Liberia consolidated account was 2 billion Liberian Dollars and 27 million United States Dollars at the exchange rate of 88.36 Liberian dollars for US$1.00.
Governor Tarlue reveals that each time the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning requested for the bank balance under the Weah administration, the Statement was provided in both Liberian dollars and United States dollars, and the Ministry did the conversion based on the prevailing rate of that day.
After several requests from lawmakers to the Executive Governor to sum both accounts and tell them the total, he maintains that the CBL only provides the numbers and the Ministry of Finance that is responsible for monetary policy does the conversion.
“All figures of both accounts were given to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the inauguration team by the CBL, so I guess they were the ones that informed both Presidents”, Governor Tarlue says.
Also speaking before full Plenary on Thursday, Deputy Governor for Operations at the Central Bank of Liberia, Nyemadi D. Pearson, said the CBL will not mislead the nation’s leaders, as this has been the procedure in providing information about both accounts.
Before his exit from power, President George M. Weah had told the public that he left USD40 million in the state’s Consolidated Account as the balance for the year ending December 31, 2023.
But delivering his first Annual Message to the 55th Legislature on Monday, 29 January 2024, President Joseph N. Boakai disputed the claim by his successor, rather, reporting that the new government met US$20.5 million or only a little over half of the amount the Ex-President said he has left in the Government of Liberia (GoL) Consolidated Account as balance.
“The net international reserves position reported at the end of December 2023 was US$220 million. The report of US $40 million as the GoL’s consolidated account balance as of January 19, 2024, is not supported by the fact. The balance reported by the CBL as of the same date was US$20.5 million, highly encumbered, NOT US$40 million,” President Boakai said.
The issue of balance being left in both the country’s international reserves and consolidated accounts has been a bone of contention between succeeding governments in the country’s most recent history.
In 2018, Weah argued that he met around US 7 million in GoL’s consolidated account as balance left behind by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Government, and around 150 M in the country’s international reserves, something the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration refuted at the time.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday, January 27, summoned the Central Bank of Liberia to provide clarity over the accuracy and consistency of the Government of Liberia’s net international reserves and its consolidated account balances as of December 31, 2023, January 19, 2024, and January 24, 2024, respectively.
The summon followed a communication from Margibi County District #2 Representative Ivar K. Jones and Montserrado County District #16 Representative Dixon W. Seboe.
Rep. Jones said his action is induced by former President Weah’s last address to the nation on January 21, 2024, in which the ex-President said, he was handing over to the next administration a net international reserve position of Two Hundred Twenty-Two Million, Seven Hundred Thousand United States dollars.
Mr. Weah explained that the total cash balance in the Government’s Consolidated Accounts is United States Forty Million, Forty-Four Thousand, Three Hundred Sixty-Five Dollars, and Ninety Cents.
But Rep.Jones notes that this statement is not being concurred with by Mr. Weah’s successor, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr.
Meanwhile, the matter has been sent to the Committee on Banking and Finance to report to the body next Tuesday.
The Liberian Senate is similarly conducting its own investigation regarding the disagreement or inconsistency on the country’s financial records. Editing by Jonathan Browne