BANKING UPROAR IN LIBERIA: Did Finance, Central Bank Act Within the Law?

– By David B. Kolleh
Source: Frontpage Africa

Monrovia –

The appearance of the signatures of Finance Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan and Central Bank Governor Dr. Mills Jones have caused national uproar among ordinary citizens and political actors arguing that the two top financial officials of Liberia are acting without any color of respect for the rule of law.

Central Bank Governor Mills Jones

A national argument ensued against the action of the men nearly three weeks ago, when the Central Bank of Liberia started to put on the Liberian Market new Bank notes bearing the signatures of the two men.

Central Bank Governor Mills Jones

 Politicians were wondering why Minister Ngafuan’s signature was appearing on the new Bank Notes when both the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance failed to get authorization from the National Legislature as provided for by the 1986 Liberia Constitution.

Article 34 d2 of the Liberian Constitution provides that “the Legislature shall levy taxes, duties, imports, exercise and other revenues, to borrow money, issue currency, mint coins, and to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic, subject to the following qualifications.”

It has been heavily argued, whether or not Ngafuan and Jones had taken into account this provision of the Constitution before the coming into play of the new Bank notes that is hugely cherished by the ordinary low income earners though questioned by business people and politicians about its origin.

Isaac Nyenabo, senior Senator Grand Gedeh County, Chair of Senate Standing Committee on Banking and Currency.

saac Nyenabo, senior Senator Grand Gedeh County,
Chair of Senate
Standing Committee on Banking and Currency.

At a news conference on Tuesday with Legislative reporters, Senator Isaac W. Nyenabo, Senior Senator of Grand Gedeh County and Chairman of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Banking and Currency put up a strong defense in support of the two top financial actors of the Country, with a call that they have the right to put their signatures on the notes.

Senator Nyenabo in a zestful mood, said what is being circulated on the Liberian market are not new currency that would have required the endorsement or the authorization of the first branch that is responsible to make laws.

“Currency is the composition of Banks notes plus coins, but Bank notes are simply the conglomeration of the five, ten, twenty, fifty and hundred Liberian dollars that are not representing is a new currency, but the continuation of printed Liberian dollars in notes.” He further said.

During the printing of bank notes, Nyenabo maintained mutilated Bank notes that are supposed to be circulating in the Liberian Market are reprinted so that the serial numbers on those notes are not omitted over time.

Announcements are not made according to Nyenabo by the Government through the Central Bank, for the purpose of maintaining confidentiality, combating inflation and the need to have a balance with other foreign currencies.

Senator Nyenabo who is referred to by his colleagues as the constitutional research Lawmaker told newsmen that Finance Minister Augustine Ngafuan and Dr. Mills Jones of the Central Bank were not in error to sign the new notes that are circulating on the Liberian market.

Nyenabo speaking in the Presence of the House Chairman on Banking and Currency James Benson of Grand Cape Mount County and Senator Joseph Nagbe of Sinoe County, also a member on the Senate’s Banking and Currency Committee, intimated that the Liberian Legislature had since given the two agencies of Government its blessing to handle Banking and Currency matters through an act that was passed since 1999.

“The issue of Banknotes being on the Liberian market had since been put to rest;” Nyenabo remarked Tuesday in his office at the National Legislature on Capitol Hill during a jammed parked news conference.

Finance Minister Augustine Ngafuan

Finance Minister Augustine Ngafuan

“The Liberian Legislature 1999 through an act dedicated that responsibility to the Central Bank of Liberia. The crafters of Act at the time had said they wanted international best financial and monetary practices in Liberia, which I believe was best for the sake of having an effective monetary market like other countries in the Sub-region,” Nyenabo further said of the CBL.

Two week ago, just before the Nyenabo’s justification to the public on reasons behind the signatures of the two financial actors, the board of the central Bank had taken a decision to indefinitely suspend the Bank’s Deputy Governor.

Well placed sources at the Central bank told this paper at the weekend that Mr. Samuel Thomson was suspended indefinitely because he had ordered that the new notes be put on the market while his Boss was away in the United States on official visit.

However, our sources said President Sirleaf has ordered that the board immediately reinstate the Deputy Governor, or else her wrath will drastically fall on them (the Bank’s Board Members).

To date there are no reports whether Mr. Thomson has been recalled to his official post or is still undergoing punishment form his bosses.


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