Liberia: 56 Lawmakers Pledge Support to Print New Money

Grand Kru County District #2 Representative Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa and Montserrado County District #8 Representative Moses Acarous Gray are leading the campaign the convince other members of the Lower House to endorse the President’s request to authorize the printing of new currency. (File photo)

Two executive members of the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC), Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray and Grand Kru County District #2 Representative Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, who are leading the campaign to print new Liberian Banknotes, have garnered commitments from at least 56 members of the House of Representatives toward the effort.

The two CDC executive members on social media pledged their respective supports to fulfilling the request of President George M. Weah for Legislative approval of the printing of L$35 billion, with Rep. Gray arguing that the printing of money is intended to pay civil servants. In agreement with Rep. Gray, Rep. Koffa also noted that the printing of new currency is inevitable. “I support the printing of money for payment of salaries as a short term measure. Eventually, we have to change the currency,” he said in a Facebook post.

According to reports, 30 members of CDC in the House of Representatives, including Gray and Koffa, have pledged their support to vote for the printing on new money during the Extraordinary Session which is expected to begin Monday, November 18.

The Chairman of the opposition Unity Party (UP) legislative caucus, Montserrado County District #17 Representative, Hanson Kiazolu, also voiced his support for the printing of new currency in a radio talkshow recently.

According to an unconfirmed report, the UP legislative chairman and 25 members of the opposition bloc, including UP and Independent lawmakers, have also pledged their support, making a total of 56 lawmakers — well over the two-thirds of the House of Representatives required for the President’s request to be officially endorsed.

Up to present yesterday, only Montserrado County District #11 Rep. Richard Koon has declined to support the printing of new currency, calling for accountability in the L$16 billion that was printed during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the US$25 million authorized by President Weah in 2018 “to mop-up excess liquidity of Liberian dollars” in the economy.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, who is a former Finance Minister of Liberia and former Vice President for Finance at the University of Liberia, also supported the proposed printing of new money, saying it will help to better scrutinize the controversial L$16 billion bank notes and the US$25 million.

Meanwhile, up to present the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mildred Sayon, is yet to confirm whether the House of Representatives would extend the 2nd Sitting of the 54th Legislature to return to work beginning Monday, November 18.

It has been speculated that the 54th Legislature left behind much unfinished business, including the handling of the President’s request to print the L$35 billion currency, which has been considered a matter of “vital importance to the economy and revenue generation.”

Meanwhile, according to the staff in the office of the Chief Clerk, who asked to remain anonymous, the President George M. Weah is expected to issue a proclamation extending the 2nd Sitting of the Legislature by 15 days, beginning November 18, 2018.

The proclamation will follow the signing of a certificate of extension by members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively.

Article 32 (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia says: “The President shall, on his own initiative or upon receipt of a certificate signed by at least one-fourth of the total membership of each House and, by proclamation, extend a Regular Session of the Legislature beyond the date of adjournment or call a Special or Extraordinary Session of that Body to discuss or act upon matters of national emergency and concern.

Reports said the President’s proclamation will acknowledge that there are several unresolved key matters of national interest that require the urgent attention of the 54th Legislature and is aware of the emergency nature of these matters, which are all geared toward the enhancement of the socio-economic interests of the State and its people.

Also, the proclamation might say that, cognizant of the limitation of time to discuss these key matters to tackle the bad economy, it requires the participation and involvement of the 54th Legislature in Session.

The proclamation is expected to conclude as below: “Now Therefore, I, George M. Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia, by virtue of the authority in me vested, do hereby issue this Proclamation for the 54th Legislature to reconvene into an Extraordinary Session for a period of Fifteen (15) Days, commencing November 18 thru December 3, 2019.”

Credit to Daily Observer.

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