Liberia: ANC Political Leader Alexander Cummings Denounces Govt Decision to Print New Money

Monrovia — The political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress, Alexander Cummings, has strongly opposed the government's decision to print new or additional banknotes amid the uncertainties surrounding the alleged missing L$15 billion and the US$25 million used for mop-up exercise.

Mr. Cummings, speaking on a wide range of economic issues confronting the country on a local radio station on Tuesday said the foremost thing government must do now is to pay civil servants their due salaries.

He said it is unacceptable that people will work for the Government and not be paid, something he said violates their rights and warrant lawsuit against the government.

Mr. Cummings made the assertions in the wake of anger and frustration being vented by government officials including lawmakers and civil servants in demand of their salary.

There have been backlashes from senior public officials including lawmakers as well as civil servants for the government's failure to pay them.

Recently, when it was reported that President Weah was recalling the lawmakers, who are currently on their constituency break to discuss urgent issues of national interest, several of them vowed to not adhere to President's call unless they are paid their arrears and salaries.

Last week, employees of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) staged series of demonstrations in demand of their salary and arrears, this led to the resignation of the LWSC's Deputy Managing Director, Dan Sayeh.

Also, on Monday, the Comptroller of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Bernard Nagbe resigned his post in protest of the government's failure to pay him on time.

In his communication to the LACC's Board of Directors, Nagbe stated although he loves his country and people, he can no longer continue the 'useless sacrifice' of working without pay.

He said the situation has become unbearable and it was better he goes without a job than to have one and cannot be paid to take care of his family.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cummings, appearing on the Sky FM's breakfast show on Tuesday expressed sympathy with the employees and said the government should shoulder the responsibility to pay its workers instead of opting to print new money.

Said Mr. Cummings: "If printing money was a solution to economic challenges then every country will just print money new money. This Government has to find a way to pay civil servants. Printing money is not the solution to the problem. There is a bigger issue with trust and confidence. To ask to print money when you cannot explain what happens to the L$15 billion when you still cannot explain what happens to the US$25 million used for mop-up, who then, have the confidence to give you the authority to print more money?"

On Shortage of Liberian Dollars

It has been alleged that the government is withholding the Liberian dollars to strengthen the local currency against the United States Dollars.

Customers have complained that they are being told by commercial banks that there is shortage of Liberian dollars in the economy, as such they are often denied being served by the banks whenever they seek withdrawal or loan.

Additionally, when they are lucky enough to be served, they are given less than the amount of money that is being requested, or are given bundles of mutilated money.

Additionally, the mobile money services offered by Liberia's two GSM companies, Lonestar Cell MTN and Orange, which until late October, 2019 have been convenient mediums for transferring money are now ineffective.

Of late, subscribers hardly withdraw cash using the mobile money services because of "no Liberian dollars."

Mr. Cummings, who spoke on wide range of economic issues confronting the country said, if it is true the Government is withholding the Liberian dollars to strengthen it against the United States dollars, then that would be "nonsensical."

He said because Liberia, as a cash-based economy needs the constant flow of money to continue transactions to enable payment of taxes and purchase of goods and services to boost the economy.

Antidotes for Crippling Economy

Mr. Cummings, while pointing out some of the flaws of the government, outlined several measures including the payment of civil servants' salaries, and promoting accountability should be put into place to revive the economy.

"Part of the problems we have is the lack of accountability, the lack of confidence. And until that confidence exists, it will be almost impossible to resurrect the economy," he warned.

He also called for further negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for external injection of funds to augment government's revenue.

In addition, he called for the introduction of some austerity measures, chief among them are the reduction of government's spending on foreign travels and domestic activities.

"First, all the leakages, all the stealing must stop, the little money we have must be protected. People got to be paid. They have to spent money, and this starts to create a multiplier effect. Because the lack of confidence to manage the economy, they have to negotiate with the IMF, we need some external injection of funds," he explained.

He continues: "senior government officials still spent lots of resources on travels and other spending. Despite all of the problems, there is no change. They have to show example. On one hand Liberians are suffering, and on the other hand the leaders are spending their money. This got to stop."

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