Ghost of Printing L$16 Billion Still Haunts Members of 53rd Legislature As Debate To Mint Currency Heightens

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Monrovia – Former Grand Kru County representative, Numene T. H. Bartekwa, has expressed regret over the endorsement of a report in 2016 that led to the printing of the controversial L$16 billion banknotes.

That decision to print the new money came few months to the end of the second term of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. It would later spark public outrage to years later following reports that the banknotes was printed illegally after it was reported missing in the early stages of President George Weah’s administration. Some observers have said the decision was never authorized by the lawmakers although there have refutations from the past regime.

But Mr. Bartekwa, who was the former Chairman of the House Committee on Posts and Telecommunications, now has regrets. In a recent interview with FrontPage Africa about the 2016 decision, the former Grand Kru County representative recalled that the basis for making a decision was misrepresented.

“The L$5 billion banknotes was intended to replace the mutilated. The mutilated notes were not replaced as expected. That is why, I was one of the persons that requested the Central Bank to appear before the House of Representatives to give reasons why the money that they said they were going to replace were not replaced, and the mutilated were still on the market,” he said.

“They [CBL] were asked to come back and give us detail calculation as to how many they wanted to replace or print. Unfortunately, they had already begun printing; this brought confusion.

“My regret is, the replacement that they said they were going to do, was never done. The market is still fluctuated and affected with mutilated bank notes. We were misled.”

Mr. Bartekwa’s revelation comes as increasing debate concerning the minting of the new banknotes takes central stage in the country. The government has proffered a suggestion to print new banknotes, suggesting that it will replace mutilated banknotes and at the same time salvaging the shrinking economy.

This rationale coming from the government continues to face stiff resistance as critics argue that it would further plunge the economy down the slum and exacerbate the current inflation rate.

“My regret is, the replacement that they said they were going to do, was never done. The market is still fluctuated and affected with mutilated bank notes. We were misled.” – Numene T. H. Bartekwa, Former Representative, Grand Kru County

While the lawmakers remain on constituency break, there have been maneuvering by the executive to ensure they return to pass on several issues including the printing of new money.

And Bartekwa, who was defeated in 2017 by Representative J. Fonati Koffa – presently Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, is weary of a redux.

Bartekwa claims they were misled to endorse a report from the Joint Committee on Banking and Currency, Ways, Means and Finance and Judiciary, at the time headed by former Montserrado County district # 10 Representative Julius Flourish Berrian.

That committee recommended the printing of L$5 billion to replace mutilated bank notes on the Liberian market. But the former Grand Kru County lawmaker claimed that up to present, the reason provided by the committee for the printing of the new money has not been satisfactorily implemented by the CBL.

According to him, for too long the CBL has reneged on replacing the mutilated bank notes on the local market.

Mr. Bartekwa claimed that the different denominations of new money printed by the CBL remain scarce in the local market and the commercial banks.

Monrovia – Former Grand Kru County representative, Numene T. H. Bartekwa, has expressed regret over the endorsement of a report in 2016 that led to the printing of the controversial L$16 billion banknotes.

That decision to print the new money came few months to the end of the second term of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. It would later spark public outrage to years later following reports that the banknotes was printed illegally after it was reported missing in the early stages of President George Weah’s administration. Some observers have said the decision was never authorized by the lawmakers although there have refutations from the past regime.

But Mr. Bartekwa, who was the former Chairman of the House Committee on Posts and Telecommunications, now has regrets. In a recent interview with FrontPage Africa about the 2016 decision, the former Grand Kru County representative recalled that the basis for making a decision was misrepresented.

“The L$5 billion banknotes was intended to replace the mutilated. The mutilated notes were not replaced as expected. That is why, I was one of the persons that requested the Central Bank to appear before the House of Representatives to give reasons why the money that they said they were going to replace were not replaced, and the mutilated were still on the market,” he said.

“They [CBL] were asked to come back and give us detail calculation as to how many they wanted to replace or print. Unfortunately, they had already begun printing; this brought confusion.

“My regret is, the replacement that they said they were going to do, was never done. The market is still fluctuated and affected with mutilated bank notes. We were misled.”

Mr. Bartekwa’s revelation comes as increasing debate concerning the minting of the new banknotes takes central stage in the country. The government has proffered a suggestion to print new banknotes, suggesting that it will replace mutilated banknotes and at the same time salvaging the shrinking economy.

This rationale coming from the government continues to face stiff resistance as critics argue that it would further plunge the economy down the slum and exacerbate the current inflation rate.

“My regret is, the replacement that they said they were going to do, was never done. The market is still fluctuated and affected with mutilated bank notes. We were misled.” – Numene T. H. Bartekwa, Former Representative, Grand Kru County

While the lawmakers remain on constituency break, there have been maneuvering by the executive to ensure they return to pass on several issues including the printing of new money.

And Bartekwa, who was defeated in 2017 by Representative J. Fonati Koffa – presently Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, is weary of a redux.

Bartekwa claims they were misled to endorse a report from the Joint Committee on Banking and Currency, Ways, Means and Finance and Judiciary, at the time headed by former Montserrado County district # 10 Representative Julius Flourish Berrian.

That committee recommended the printing of L$5 billion to replace mutilated bank notes on the Liberian market. But the former Grand Kru County lawmaker claimed that up to present, the reason provided by the committee for the printing of the new money has not been satisfactorily implemented by the CBL.

According to him, for too long the CBL has reneged on replacing the mutilated bank notes on the local market.

Mr. Bartekwa claimed that the different denominations of new money printed by the CBL remain scarce in the local market and the commercial banks.

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