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Liberia: Dispute Over New Bank Notes


The decision by the Central Bank of Liberia to print new 170 million Liberian Dollar notes has led to an outcry among some Liberian lawmakers who say the printing was illegal and unconstitutional. Central Bank Governor Mills Jones told a news conference Tuesday the government printed the new notes not to flood the market but to replenish its operational vault at the bank. Jones also reportedly said there was nothing illegal about the printing of the new bank notes.

Senator Sumo Kupee is Chairman of the Committee on Banking and Currency. He said he will hold a news conference Wednesday about the matter.

“Article (d) of the Liberian Constitution provides that the legislature has the power to attain the printing of national bank currency and the minting of coins. The National Bank has the functional independence. What that means to us is that they needed to seek an approval from the legislature prior to the decision to print the money. So we’re going to be discussing that at the news conference,” he said.

Liberian Central Bank Governor Mills Jones told journalists Tuesday in Monrovia the bank had done nothing covert or illegal about the printing of the new bank notes. He also reportedly said that even though the constitution gives the legislative branch the power to issue currency and mint coins, the act establishing the Central Bank relegated such function to the bank. But Senator Kupee said he does not believe the governor.

“It is very clear in our laws that any law that contravenes the constitution is not withstanding. The constitution is the organic law of the Republic of Liberia and there it is very clear that all matters relating to the printing of bank notes and coins must seek the approval of the legislature. We think that we should have been consulted,” Kupee said.

Besides that, Senator Kupee added that his Committee on Banking and Currency oversees the functions of the Bank, and by not informing his committee, the bank acted in secrecy.

“Section 22 of the Act that created the Central Bank clearly indicates that prior to any such action the Central Bank needed to publicize it in the newspaper of general circulation in the Republic of Liberia and inform the Liberian people on that action, the quantity that was being printed, the purpose for which it was being printed. This wasn’t done,” he said.

Kupee said the legislature would take up the matter in January when it returns from its current recess.

“We are going to resume in second week in January, and I’m sure that the legislature, not only the senate, is going to call in the authorities of the Central Bank to give reason why this action was taken,” he said.

Kupee allegations of a power struggle between the legislature and executive branch led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“I don’t see any struggle for power. I see that one of the principles that underlie the function of government is that the three separate branches must coordinate their work. And I think that this is part of the job to coordinate our work. We don’t see it as a power struggle. We just want to make sure that we do what we have to do as lawmakers and let the executive do what it has to do,” Kupee said.

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