Liberia: Senate Concurs With House On Printing New Banknotes

Monrovia — The Liberian Senate Wednesday voted 18 out of 24 seated Senators to concur with the House on giving mandate to the Central Bank of Liberia to print a new family of Liberian dollars banknotes but a few Senators of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties are against the procedure.

The Senate took the decision during its extraordinary session presided over by Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie on Wednesday. The Senate's decision followed by scrutiny of the House of Representatives resolution by the Senate Joint Committee on Ways, Means, and Finance, Judiciary, Banking, and Currency.

The House of Representatives recently passed the resolution granting permission to the Central Bank of Liberia calling for the printing of a new family of banknotes. Prior to the concurrence, Senators of the Collaborating Political Parties raised many concerns they wanted address before giving their votes for the process.

Senator Abraham Darius of Montserrado County, Nyounblee Karnga Lawrence of Grand Bassa County, Johnathan Boyle Charles Sogbie of River-Gee County, Daniel Naathn of Gbarpolu County voted against giving the mandate because they believe their concerns were not address by the Executive Branch of Government.

Some of the concerns include, measures put in place by the Executive branch of government to guide against duplication, report on the infusion process of the Liberian dollars 4 billion dollars earlier printed by the CDC government and putting in place internal control.

Moments after the Senate plenary decision, Senator Dillon posted on his Facebook page criticizing the procedure used by his colleagues which he said was not done in regard to legal and legislative procedures.

"There is a legal maxim that essentially says, "Anything that is not done right is not done at all." So was the Senate's action today, claiming to "concur with the House of Representatives" regarding the printing of new Liberian banknotes. The action was not done consistent with established legal and legislative procedures."

Dillon stated that the constitutionally required approval of the Legislature for printing of new banknotes and minting of coins cannot be passed by less than two-thirds of the Senate; and never has the Senate ever passed on a Joint Resolution to print money on the strength of less than two-thirds of the Senate and or the House of Representatives.

"Today, the purported "Joint Resolution" did not meet the required threshold of two-thirds signatures; the Resolution was signed by 18 Senators, and 18 Senators cannot constitute two-thirds of the Membership of the Senate that consists of thirty Members. I am therefore consulting Lawyers to advise on the possibility of proceeding to court to place a Stay Order on the unlawful decision."

In response to Senator Dillon, Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie said, there is not constitutional requirement of two third for a resolution for the Senate to give mandate to the Central Bank of Liberia to print money.

The CBL request

The Central Bank of Liberia earlier this year informed lawmakers that it needs L$27.5 billion to stabilize the cash flow in the country as L$22.5 billion is already out of the banking sector.

The money, the CBL said it is indeed to respond to the blanket outlook of the downward trend of the economy and will buy up government debts, a move probably designed to keep borrow costs low.

"The issue of paucity of the Liberian dollars is a grave concern, and whether we need additional banknotes or we need new banknotes, the fact is we need money on the market to be infused into the economy in three years period," said CBL Executive Governor J. Aloysius Tarlue.

The money, Governor Tarlue added, will be printed at a cost of US$21 million equivalent to about L$3.4 billion, while revealing that the recently printed L$4billion is part of L$25.3bn of which L$22.5bn is currently outside the bank.

Governor Tarlue added that the L$10 billion out the money in the banking sector is mutilated because it has lived its lifespan. Tarlue also blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the country's present economic woes, but "stressed that the economic outlook can be redeemed certainly with the printing of the new banknotes."

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