Liberia: U.S.83 Million or U.S.32.8 Million

Documents in the possession of the New Dawn newspaper have revealed that the actual amount loaned to the Government of Liberia by the Central Bank for Civil Servants salaries based on former President George Weah's request on December 11, 2023, was US32.8 Million, not US83 million, as speculated by Gbarpolu County Senator Amara Konneh and his likes.

This paper also discovered that the US83 million is an accumulation of loans booked and transferred to the GoL Payroll account by the CBL from June to November 2023 to pay civil servants salaries.

In his social media post on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, following exchanges between him and Senator Albert Chie, Sen. Konneh claimed that the CBL loaned the Weah administration US83 Million in December 2023 alone while displaying a copy of the letter written by former President Weah's Chief of Staff J. Wesseh Blamo.

Sen. Konneh further claimed in his post that the CBL loaning out US83 million to the Government of Liberia in December 2023 "was a violation of the Constitution, Public Financial Management (PFM) Law of 2009 (as amended), and the CBL Act." And had void to follow each check all the way to the vendor.

However, Sen. Konneh appears to be comingling the PFM law, which specifically applies to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and is exclusive of the CBL. The CBL operates by its Act. It does not engage vendors directly.

Discovering the US50.2Million

The New Dawn discovered that as of November 2023, documents and returned checks revealed that the amount of (Fifty million, two hundred thousand United States Dollars) US50, 200,000 had been drawn out as Civil Servants Salary checks covering the period June 2023 to November 2023.

On November 30, 2023, the CBL wrote to then Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, drawing the Minister's attention to the build-up of the Government of Liberia's obligation to the bank.

Former Minister Tweah, in his response dated December 5, 2023, just six days before President Weah's December 11, 2023, request, which summed the money up to US83m, indicated that the guarantee to pay the GoL obligations were solely relying on revenue mobilization. He explained further that as of November 2023, Revenue intake had declined.

Sources in the corridor of the CBL said the Bank chose to put the US83m in the loan category to give President Boakai a briefing space. The source said drawing down the loan, which would have been a little over US13m per month, would have put a strain on Boakai's administration, which was taking over.

Amara Konneh cites violation of the Constitution.

Article 34, section d (iii) of the Constitution states that no loans shall be raised by the Government on behalf of the Republic or guarantees given for any public institution or authority other than by or under the authority of a legislative enactment.

However, according to the CBL Act: Section 46 (2) of the Amended and Restatement of the Act establishing the Central Bank of Liberia states:

"Subject to the overall limits specified by this Act, the Central Bank, by decision of the Board of Governors, may extend credit to the Government of Liberia with maturities not exceeding six months only under exceptional circumstances such as war, famine, or other natural disasters. In the event any credit remains unpaid on due date, the debt including accrued interest shall be convened into markable securities with a maximum of 12-maturity which shall bear market related interest rates. The Government shall cooperate with the Central Bank in the issuance of the requisite financial instruments."

Multiple CBL Board Resolutions spotted by this paper showed that at the end of the Civil War and including the 12-year rule of former President Elen Johnson's administration, in which Sen. Konneh served as Finance Minister, the CBL had not obtained direct legislative approval for extended borrowing to the government of Liberia.

Records showed that during the second term of former President Sirleaf, at which time now Sen. Konneh served as Finance Minister, the Government of Liberia borrowed US110,837,196.49 (one hundred ten million, eight hundred thirty-seven thousand, one hundred ninety-six hundred and forty-nine cent) from the CBL without going through the legislature. All credits were based on Board approvals, not legislative approval, as Sen. Konneh now demands.

To date, the total loan owed by the GoL to the CBL, including the 83 million accrued over the years, is over US$570.4 million.

On December 6, 2019, the CBL, under the current Board of Governors and the Government of Liberia, agreed to restructure the GOL's debt. That agreement came into effect on January 1, 2020. This ushered the Bank under the IMF program.

The loan (US32.8M) from the CBL by the Weah administration was secured during Liberia's suspension from the IMF program in December of last year. To be continued.

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