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Weah Wants Lawmakers Act On Money Crisis

By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy

President George Weah is seeking the Legislature’s approval to allow the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) print new banknotes so as to strengthen its institutional independence in line with the international acceptance norms.“I respectfully call on you to act swiftly to resolve the situation before the next season of high demand for cash,” the Liberian leader said yesterday when he delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address to the legislators.
‘In the face of this liquidity situation, and while we endeavor to encourage our citizens to sustain their widely use of mobile money for transactions, the Executive will intensify consultations with the Legislature to pursue currency reforms with the aim of promoting monetary policy credibility and enhancing confidence in the economy,” the Liberian leader assured.
“Our goal is to reset the foundation of the monetary policy given the importance of the CBL to our economy; we will further employ the Legislature to help because in the current environment in which the CBL does not have current control over 90 percent of the Liberian dollars which are outside the banking sector, the effectiveness of the monetary policy is undermined,” he decried.
Some of the Lawmakers at yesterday’s program

Though President Weah bragged that the Liberian dollars experienced persistent appreciation compared to other countries in the ECOWAS region whose country currencies according to him are widely depreciated, he said 2020 was challenging for the Liberian economy.
The Liberian leader explained that in the year under review, the economy was expected to grow by 3.2 percent in all major sectors of the economy as the policy of the government was primarily focused on fighting inflation therefore it worked aggressively for citizens to feel its micro-economic reforms.
He said even with the printing and delivering of US$4 billion, the economy was challenged by difficulties to access Liberian dollars in the financial sector thus reflecting a 40 percent rate of mutilations of the existing Liberian dollar banknotes in circulation.
“The liquidity pressure on the Liberian dollar was aggravated by the increasing demand for the local currency used by many financial players in the economy such as the mobile money agents, large numbers of ATM cards holders and foreign exchange bureaus,” President Weah further reported.
Meanwhile, the President further reported the coronavirus pandemic as the most significant factor that negatively affected the economy during the year under review which accordingly afflicted over millions globally and Liberia was not spared.
“The COVID recast subsequently increased the National Budget to US$518 Million. The Government spent the amount of US$518 Million for the Fiscal Year 2019/2020 and carried forward the cash amount of US$7.0 Million for enactment in the 2020/2021 National Budget, which the National Legislature subsequently passed at an amount of US$570 Million,” he announced.
President Weah’s State of the Nation address is in accordance with Article 58 of the Liberian Constitution which states that; ‘The President shall on the fourth working Monday of each year present his administration’s legislative program for the ensuing session and shall once a year report to the Legislature on the state of the Republic; in presenting the economic condition of the Republic, the report shall cover expenditure and well as income.’
The Coalition-led administration continues to come under serious criticisms from opposition and the public due to its failure to attract foreign investments and ensure stable economy as well as deriving a strategy to regularize employees’ salary.
By this speech delivered, many have deduced that Weah-led government’s inability to sustain the provision of basic needs to its huge impoverished masses are among other challenges the government continues to face in the mid-way of his tenure.
Last year, President Weah reported that revenues received totaled US$ 445 million which was US$ 35 million less than revenues collected from January-December, 2018 while expenditure incurred totaled US$ 406 million while this year, he reported a total revenue for the calendar year under review as US$653.9 Million.
According to him, this amount comprised US$475.5 Million in domestic revenue and US$178.4 Million in external resources from development partners while the total expenditure for the same period amounted to US$606 Million.
He further reported that last year experienced global economic uncertainty and that the recovery of global economic momentum remained slow, largely due to trade and geographic tensions as well as country- specific effects; which according to him adversely impacted the performances of the country’s domestic economy, yet in the year under review, the National Legislature recast the 2019/2020 National Budget twice: first to address perceived revenue challenges, and secondly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic; the first recast took the National Budget from US$525.9 Million to US$505 Million.
President Weah did not hesitate to announce how the macroeconomic environment was difficult in 2019 characterized by a low economic growth of less than one percent, annual inflation of more than 20 percent and depreciation of the Liberian dollar by more than 20 percent.
Unarguably, there has been no improvement in the Liberian dollars while many citizens remain hopeless as the State of the Nation address delivered failed to report improvements in all sectors.

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