Legislature Not to Blame, but CBL -Rep. Dennis Says CBL Failed to Follow Up on New Printing

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As the debate rages on about whether or not to print additional banknotes as a means of stabilizing the economy and replacing the mutilated local Liberian dollars currency with new ones, Montserrado County District # 4 Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis says the House of Representatives has never refused the printing of bank notes to help solve the liquidity problems in the country; rather, it is the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) that has failed to come back to meet with the Legislature to iron out modalities pertaining to the Resolution that authorized the printing  of LD30 billion.

Representative Dennis, in a Monday, December 28 social media disclosure, said “the legislature, especially the House of Representatives, has never refused printing of bank notes that could help to solve liquidity problems in Liberia as perpetrated by some members of the Executive Branch of Government.”

She said, in fact, there is a resolution permitting the CBL to print LD30 billion, but only “new family notes or new money”.

“While we were in said conclusive state, the CBL came to the House a day to the House’s closure, for an emergency printing of LD4 billion. Some members saw it as a fiasco and didn’t endorse; others did and it was printed,” Representative Dennis narrated.

The outspoken lawmaker said the reality of the situation is that the CBL has never been back for a new printing or additional printing, neither have they acted based on the resolution.

The statement from the Montserrado County District #4 lawmaker comes on the heels of recent comments from Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel Falo McGill, who said the Liberian people should blame the legislature instead of President George M. Weah, for refusing to print the stipulated LD$7.5 billion that the CBL had requested printed to address the liquidity and mutilated banknotes problems.

Addressing a cross-section of the media over the weekend, Minister McGill said the issue is purely a legislative responsibility, and people should stop throwing blame at President Weah.

“It is the legislature, which is their sole responsibility to change the money. If they don’t do it, the Liberian people will have problems with the Liberian dollar. They have to agree to change this money. The money is rotten. The Liberian people have to accept that. It has nothing to do with the president. It is pure legislative responsibility. The lawmakers have to decide, we got to change the money,” Minister McGill stated.

The statement from Minister McGill also came against the backdrop of a press statement from the Central Bank of Liberia issued last week Tuesday, lamenting the acute liquidity issue currently facing the country.

“The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) is fully aware of the current liquidity pressure in the banking system, particularly the limited supply of Liberian dollars. It is, however, worth noting that the pressure on the Liberian dollar this year is unusual and can be attributed to the increased demand for Liberian dollars overtime, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19,” the CBL said last Tuesday.

“In its effort to preempt this seasonal pressure, the CBL in 2019 forecast L$7.5 billion based on its analysis but was authorized to print only L$4.0 billion. This amount which was brought into the country in July this year, was inadequate to replace the current amount of mutilated banknotes and at the same meet the liquidity demand in the banking system. In spite of this constraint, the CBL has been strategically infusing the L$4.0 billion through the commercial banks with substantial amount already infused into circulation.”

Backlash

But despite the statement from the CBL that it has been strategically infusing the recently printed LD4 billion into the banking sector, Representative Dennis and other lawmakers have their doubts, especially with the acute shortage of Liberian dollars in commercial banks.

“I take this as a mere tactics to coerce the legislature to print and print and print. All we need is a composed CBL that knows and understands what they need at the present point in time. One minute you want LD30B new notes, next minute LD4B old notes. Another time LD7.5B; I don’t know new or old notes??? We are ready to help but let’s do it properly,” Representative Rustonlyn Dennis stated.

Opposition CPP lawmaker Senator Abraham Darius Dillon has also expressed his doubts about the recently printed LD4 Billion, thereby questioning the rationale of printing additional banknotes to offset the liquidity issue.

“Show me, account for the 4 Billion Dollars first, then we can talk about printing new or additional bank notes,” Dillon stated on his social media wall Monday.

“You can bet that if the 4 Billion Dollars was printed under the Ellen-led Administration, we would be hearing all the blame-shifting. But the 4 Billion Dollars was printed and received under the Weah-led Regime so the regime is silent, acting like nothing has happened. And regime apologists are burying their hands in the sand!” Senator Dillon continued.

But even as the blame-shifting keeps doing a musical chair, the public is not at all impressed with the performance of the government, especially the CBL, which is the final monetary authority in the country.

“You are right, we actually need CBL that will do the right, to know exactly what they want not printing bank notes that are invisible in the economy and always asking to print new notes that is not changing anything for the masses,” a seemingly frustrated blogger stated Monday in reaction to Rep. Rustonlyn Dennis’ comments.

“Before we affix our signatures on a resolution to print new banknotes, have we asked ourselves where are the old ones ranging from the mutilated notes and recently printed 4b $500 notes? Have we wondered on the distribution process? Do we care calling the CBL to explain to us how the recently printed banknotes were used and why do we need additional prints and how does this effect our economy? It’s better we put forth these hard questions. Lawmakers will have to allay their fear of people turning against them in order to do the right things. Are we going to print money every year?” another irate Liberian wondered.

It can be recalled that the Legislature in December 2019 approved President Weah’s request to print LD4 billion to be infused into the economy.

Speaking on the issue at the time, President Weah said, in the interest of national security and to enable the Liberian people celebrate the season in a joyous way, he had requested the Legislature, in accordance with Article 34 D (ii) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, to authorize the CBL to infuse the amount of LD4 billion into the economy to ease the liquidity situation.

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