Liberia: Economic Lie!

20 November 2019

-Lawmaker trashes call to print money for salaries payment

River Gee County District #3 Representative and member of the House Committee on Ways, Means and Finance, Francis Dopoe says it's an economic, financial and social lie for anyone to suggest the printing of money in order to pay government employees' arrears."It's an economic lie; it's a social lie; it's a financial lie," he told a talk show on a local radio station Monrovia Tuesday evening, 19 November.

Mr. Dopoe argues that taxes collected by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) in a cash - based environment are used to pay government employees, so there is no reason to rely on the printing of money to pay civil servants."My information tells me that the government is collecting revenues ... This government has collected the highest revenue than any other government. So let them tell us where the money went," he notes.

According to Rep. Dopoe, the Legislature passed the Budget at $297 [million dollars] for compensation, noting that when [revenue collecting authorities] collect $40 [million] on the average, they should be paying like $24 million for the wage bill on the average per month.

Given the LRA's recent pronouncement of how much it collects in taxes here compared to the wage bill of US$297m passed by the Legislature, Rep. Dopoe insists that it doesn't make sense to him for anyone to suggest that the government must print money to pay its employees.

He continues that the LRA is doing its best to collect taxes in cash, but if the government cannot pay its employees, he is inclined to believe that the regime is either doing off - budget spending or it is trying to pay back unauthorized borrowing from the Central Bank.

"So the Ministry of Finance should be truthful to the Liberian people. There's nothing about revenue issue here," he notes."There could be something going wrong like it happened the last time. There could be some off - budget spending again or they are trying to pay back to the Central Bank what they took from there that was not appropriate for our economy," the River Gee lawmaker says.

Rep. Dopoe stresses that the same Economic Management Team that [took] the unorthodox economic decision to leave the commercial banks and buy Liberian dollars from people outside the banks, knows where the money is."So they know where the money is. They could find the policy to get it out. But my point is the most rigid way to do it is to change the currency," Rep. Doepoh says.

According to him, before taking their legislative break, the majority view of lawmakers during their discussion was that the CBL should print money because the local currency here is confusing, it is not homogeneous. Dopoe says he supports the changing of both the legacy notes and the new banknotes, but there are pivotal conditions that must be met by the administration.

He demands an understanding into the 16bn Liberian dollars scandal as well as the controversial US$25m mop exercise carried out by the regime.He also makes demands that before printing of new money is done, there must be structural reform at the CBL, which the government has begun; there must be audit of the CBL; and there should be internal control at the Bank.

Further, he questions the government about the whereabouts of the Liberia Anti - Corruption Commission (LACC) report, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) report surrounding these controversial financial crisis here.

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