28 January 2013

Liberia Owes U.S.$200 Million

It has been revealed in Monrovia that over US$200 million dollars domestic debt owed by the Government of Liberia is untraceable.

Finance Minister Amara Konneh made the astonishing revelation while addressing the Ministry of Information press briefing Thursday, January 24, 2013.

"Our domestic debt is around 200milllion. We didn't know that. And the majority of it is with the Central Bank; contracted when the Central Bank used to be called the National Bank. And, in most cases you can't even trace the money," Minister Konneh disclosed to news men Thursday.

He did not say how the debt was accumulated, neither did he say why the government is committed to paying the money when, in fact, the money is not traceable.

Minister Konneh's revelation was in response to a question on why the government was reneging on paying its huge domestic debt but has instead chosen to credit more money.

"I have conducted a review, and all I can say to you is that there's no trace," Minister Konneh said. "We took it up to the Central Bank, and you cannot trace it to any project. But they say we should pay."

Minister Konneh could not say who's compelling the government to pay the domestic debt when, in fact, there are no records to prove that the government is indeed owing such amount.

Minister Konneh did not disclose how the domestic liability was accumulated, but however insisted that by borrowing more money, the country was on its way to relieving itself from more financial burdens whose practical realities he promised will come in the next three years.

His revelation now leaves many wondering as to why the government should commit itself to paying a debt with no records traced.

"If the international community will look at Liberia, after we inflicted harm on ourselves, and put us in the position we are in today, to the point where our economy collapsed, why can't Liberians themselves forgive their own country?" Minister Konneh said while also revealing a new US$65Million loan agreement signed between the Government of Liberia and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

"I can tell you this ... the loan agreement we signed today will help us (the government of Liberia) in about three to five years to clear our domestic debts. So, we're investing now, through borrowing, so that tomorrow we can settle our domestic debts.

"So, we've given debt forgiveness to ourselves. We will continue to harass the government on the issue of domestic debt, and I can tell you that the government is committed to meeting its obligations because the contracts are on track.

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