AS THE LIBERIAN Senate debates the pros and cons for printing new Liberian bank notes following the Lower House’s passage of the Resolution to do so, it is time for all Liberians to have their say on this important matter. Nothing is urgent and necessary than doing that.
SKEPTICS’ FEAR ABOUT printing the money is not unfounded. It is understandable. Following the 16-billion-dollar saga, something that nearly rocked the security of this country and put the integrity of the nation in the balance, every Liberian is right to be skeptical about printing another set of banknotes. Questions and doubts still linger. While there have been arrests and imprisonments and a judicial process, while there were certified audits, fears about huge cash, about how it is printed, brought into the country and dispensed from the national vault still mount amongst citizens.
BUT THE JEOPARDY the nation and its people face as far as the Liberian local money market is concerned is more threatening and potentially disruptive than the manageable fears that are lingering in some quarters. We said manageable fears because it is officially common knowledge that L$16 billion did not vanquish as was widely assumed and reported, and that if issues of reporting and distribution of printed money is the concern, then one can safely say that with adequate lessons learned in the immediate past, and with the unusual involvement of international partners, the fears so harbored can be handled without incident.
WHAT IS TOTAL shame and disgrace right now is that it looks like the country is unable to control its own banknotes or generally its own money market. There is a regular scarcity of the country’s own money; there appears to be confusion about who is hoarding the money, and there are difficulties to retrieve the legacy banknotes from sinister hands to local banks. If Liberians cannot control their own money, then whose money can they control?
BUT THAT’S NOT the only problem. The current banknotes are sloppy and shabby. In years past Liberians used to mock other countries for their currencies, both the look of their banknotes and their state of decay. Unfortunately, Liberian dollar banknotes are worse nowadays. Others’ seem better. Ours have different colors, difference lengths and sizes and they are woefully decayed. Worse still, lower confidence in the banking sector compels some people and groups to hoard and to hold back the banknotes from the financial mainstream. What we have therefore had in the Liberian money market is total chaos and tatters.
IN OUR VIEW, there is no better way to correct the prevailing situation than to remove the current legacy banknotes and print new family of banknotes. While this is not an option that can stand on its own merit alone, and that other factors need to be considered concomitantly into the overall monetary stability process, printing is the first step. Printing of a new set of banknotes is the anchor upon which all other factors can be tied.
ALREADY, THE CENTRAL Bank of Liberia has been engaging stakeholders in the money sector, mainly the commercial banks, to restore public confidence. Already, the population is gravitating towards digitation and other contemporary financial transactions. Blending these unfolding developments with the printing of a completely new family of the national banknotes is the only rescue available. It will bring back monies from the hands of scrupulous business people and economic pirates into the banking system. It will increase authoritative control of the legacy banknotes, learning from lessons of the past, and stabilize the money market. It will bring dignity and pride of the Liberian dollar and to Liberians who will call it “our own money”.
WE THEREFORE STRONGLY call on the Liberian senate to do the right thing—concur with the Lower House—so that the Central Bank begins the immediate printing of the Liberian dollar in new format.