Against the backdrop of the apparent uncertainty on the final decision reached in the legislature to print a new denomination of banknotes in the country, Montserrado County District Number 11 Representative Richard Nagbe Koon has stated that the decision to print was concluded by the lawmakers and that the first set of the money will be printed in 2022, while the second batch comes out in 2024, stressing that in the electoral year 2023, no money will be printed.
According to Representative Koon who made the disclosure on the local radio talk show, the legislators concurred that the printing of 1,000 Liberian dollar bank notes will help in the digitization process of the economy.
“One of the things I do as a lawmaker is to look critically at issues and not attack the President or other individuals like what my colleagues do. For instance, when it came to the printing of new bank notes, I was actively involved, especially on the denominations to be printed. I supported the printing of 1,000 bank notes but my colleagues rejected it; however, I was happy when the Senate concurred with my suggestion that 1,000 bank notes should be printed to help with the digitalization of the economy”, he said, adding, “So a decision was reached that the first money will be printed in 2022 and the second will be in 2024. There will be no printing in 2023, the year of the general elections.”
Addressing the issue of the controversial $15,000 dished out to lawmakers recently that sparked out so much outcry from the public, Representative Koon, an opposition lawmaker from the Unity Party, showered praises on the George Weah-led government for thinking about the legislators’ plight in these difficult times.
“I want to thank the government for being so thoughtful to make the $15,000 available to us because it is a relief to us in meeting the legislative needs of our people. For four years now, we have not received any money for our legislative projects though this money is not meant for execution of any project,” Rep. Koon averred.
He further justified the dishing of the “Legislative Engagement” fund by saying it did not originate from the legislators as has been widely circulated, but the executive branch thought it wise to put the money in the budget for their engagement with their constituency, something they have not been doing due to the lack of funds. He added that the money was properly legislated and budgeted within the confines of transparency and any other financial compliance to support its inclusion and disbursement to every sitting lawmaker.
The lawmaker who is noted for his robust activities when it comes to debating issues surrounding the national budget said the allocated money was not meant for the execution of any physical project, but solely for the use of the lawmakers to engage their constituents in meetings, discussions and other outreach programs with the view of producing legislative reports as well as soliciting ways and means on how their constituencies will benefit from the government development projects.
“The money is meant for our engagement with our people. It is not for the execution of any project. Any lawmaker doing so will be breaching the purpose of what the money is intended for. For us, we have earmarked the money for engagement and will be spending LD25,000 on each of the 54 communities in the area,” Rep. Koon said.
On War and Economic Crimes Court
When quizzed about his stance on the establishment of a war and economic crimes in Liberia, Mr. Koon said that he strongly supports the establishment of the war and economic crime court for Liberia and is one of the proponents of those pushing for the repeal of the legislative act of 2003 under the Taylor administration that gave general amnesty to all those who took active part in the civil war which effectively now puts an impediment against those seeking for justice for victims of the war. He said so far, everything is moving fine.
Who leads the CPP to elections?
Regarding the national politics as it regards the 2023 presidential elections, especially regarding his stance on who should head the CPP going to the 2023 presidential elections, Rep. Koon said he supports the ambition of former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai to head the single ticket of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) ahead of another aspirant, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, on the basis of what he called experience, wisdom and credibility.
He said if, however, it turns out that Cummings emerges winner of the ticket, Mr. Boakai will not be going as a running mate to Mr. Cummings.
Recent Presidential Tours and 2023
When asked about the chances of President George Manneh Weah in 2023 especially coming on the heels of his recent county tour where a good number of citizens had endorsed him way before the elections, Rep. Koon said the tour will not help the president in 2023 because what actually happened in the various counties was that some people came out to see the President because they have not seen him in their lifetime. He said when the chips are down, the President will be shocked that all those who went there to see him didn’t go there because they wanted him to be re-elected, but they mainly went to see him out of curiosity as they had never seen him.