The NEWS (Monrovia)

7 March 2014

Liberia: Ellen Signs CBL Act

Amidst controversy surrounding the concurrence of a proposed act, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has signed into law the amended Act that established the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). According to the Catholic owned Radio Veritas, the Liberian leader signed the document yesterday at the Foreign Ministry.

The Act restrained the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Dr. Mills Jones from contesting the Liberian presidency within specific time until his tenure expires or he resigns.

The amended Section of the Act says, "The Executive Governor, Deputy Governor or Board of Governors shall not be qualified to contest any elected office within three years consecutively after the expiration of their tenure and in his/her resignation from the bank."

The signing of the act followed protests staged on the grounds of the Capitol building, the home of the National Legislature, by pro-Mill Jones supporters who presented a statement expressing objection to the passage of the Act and the subsequent endorsement by the President.

There were mixed reactions Thursday on the grounds of the Capitol when anti-Jones group showed up to dismiss what they called "frivolous" argument by pro Jones supporters.

Members of the Liberia National Police were deployed between the opposing groups to prevent any fury that would become violent.

Pro-Jones supporters said the amended CBL Act was "discriminatory" and it was designed to thwart the political ambition of the CBL Governor.

However, some anti-Jones supporters claimed that Governor Jones was using state resources to buy loyalty and vote ahead of the 2017 presidential elections.

A group of Liberians under the banner, "Peace Loving Concerned Liberian owed Businesses and Organizations" Thursday staged a peaceful protest against the National Legislature for amending certain positions of the Act that created the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

The amended provisions of the CBL Act are Part IV, Section 13, Part

IV, Part II and V which talks about the resignation or removal of the Executive Governors and Deputy Governors, administration and management of the CBL and the functions of the bank.

Justifying their reasons recently for the amendment, the lawmakers said their move is to protect the country's national reserve from depletion.

According to them, they want to depoliticize the workings of the Central Bank of Liberia and prevent Executive Governors and Deputy Governors from participating in politics.

They said the amendment is in no way intended to get at a particular person at the CBL, but to protect the country's reserves.

The Peace Loving Concerned Liberian owed Businesses and Organizations in a petition to the Legislature claimed that the lawmakers' action violates all tenets of international best practices.

They said the amendment has the propensity to disorganize the independence, credibility, powers and functions of the bank in providing direction for the country's economy.

The petitioners noted that the amendment is unconstitutional and unacceptable because its intent is to deny the Governor, Deputy Governors and Board of Governors from exercising their constitutional rights.

The group described the Legislature's action as a political blunder which is unprecedented in the history of lawmaking in Liberia.

They indicated that the amended Act is not only directly targeted at Governors, but it is also against the empowerment of the Liberian people.

However, the Amended Act does not prohibit the CBL from giving loans to Liberian owned businesses as understood.

The group noted that the speedy passage of the amended Act indicates that the National Legislature is insensitive to the suffering of the Liberian people.

"We want President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the National Legislature to know that the Liberian people are not fools; the Liberian people have wisdom and are wise enough to see, feel and hear," the group said.

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