26 June 2013

Liberia: Senate Descends On Mills Jones

In the wake of widespread dishing out of loans to local businesses, including marketers, the Liberian Senate is calling for an audit of the Central Bank of Liberia.

Senate Pro-tempore Gbezohngar Milton Findley says the Senate's Committee on Banking and Currency will shortly recommend for an audit at the Central Bank amidst controversy on how CBL Governor Dr. Mills Jones, was dishing out money, including ongoing construction work on a new Central Bank building.

Speaking during a news conference in Monrovia, the Grand Bassa County Senator said the proposed audit will include work plan and funds infused in the completion of the newly constructed Central Bank office on between Broad and Ashmun streets.

Already, the Senate through plenary has mandated its Committee on Banking and Currency to summon Executive Governor Mills Jones for public hearing to account for public funds being expanded, and validate legally whether his gestures are in conformity with the act the established the CBL.

The Senate said that during a closed hearing with Governor Jones last week, the committee claimed the Governor displayed boisterous attitude. The committee reported that Dr. Jones, who is eyeing the Liberian presidency comes 2017, went as far as beating on desks in expressing his anger and disagreement with a group of senators.

According to the Senate Pro-tempore, authorities at the CBL headed should be aware that the funds placed in their care are for the Liberian people so it is expedient that he explains to the senators and anyone, wanting an understanding of the operations of the nation's governing bank in a civil manner.

The Senate had had reservations about the way Dr. Jones is giving out micro-loans, raising several questions about where the money come from and what legal authority the Governor has to perform such task.

It is against this backdrop that the Senate called a conference with Dr. Jones to ascertain facts surrounding this much-publicized loan scheme. According to Findley, during the conference with the CBL boss, expressions from Dr. Jones were "disrespectful, defiant and lawless."

Briefing plenary Tuesday at the Capitol, Sen. Findley narrated that when the leadership of the Senate met in an executive session with the Governor last week, Dr. Jones could not answer questions about the loan scheme but rather defended his the policy, stressing, "this is (in keeping with) best financial practices across the world."

Some senators expressed disappointment in the Governor's action, while others demanded that Dr. Jones should be invited before plenary to provide clarity. Governor Jones is also expected to answer questions related to a plan to introduce coins on the Liberian market and its impact on the economy.

The CBL believes that when introduced on the local market, coins would help to reduce inflation. After several minutes of deliberations, Senator Frederick Doe Cherue made a motion, reinforcing the mandate of the Senate's Committee on Banking and Currency to make further inquiry and advise plenary.

Senators demanded that plenary be furnished with the necessary information as to what the CBL intends to do and the rationale behind those decisions, adding, the Liberian people need to be informed as to whether or not, the CBL is exercising its functions wisely.

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