For the first time in nearly 18 years or probably since the formation of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), the CBL violated Part XI Section 49(1) of the Central bank of Liberia Act of 1999 when it removed its annual report to appease the Government of President George Weah.
On January 31, 2019, Globe Afrique broke one of the biggest stories of President George Weah’s administration. A story which revealed that the former footballer turned president of Liberia was leading his country of 4.7 million people over a fiscal cliff.
The story titled “Weah’s Government Reports Largest Budget Shortfall in Liberia’s History” was based on data collected from several sources including the Central Bank of Liberia.
The story was strategically written to hit the newswire on January 31 as a test to see whether the Central Bank of Liberia – under the CDC regime – was operating independently. Later, Globe Afrique learned that the Government of President Weah ordered the report removed from the CBL’s website – it has since been replaced. Still, the removal took the CBL over its statutory obligation and violated the Central Bank Act of 1999.
According to the CBL Act of 1999, the CBL within 30 days after the close of each financial year, submit to the Government and the Legislature an Annual Report which shall contain:
- A report of its operations and affairs during that year, and
- A report on the state of the economy, which shall include information on the banking system, the growth in the monetary aggregates, financial markets development, the balance of payments performance, and the activities of the Central Bank.
Historically, governments do not responsibly handle the duty of conducting monetary policy. The most infamous fiascos can be found in Argentina and Zimbabwe which led to brutal hyperinflation. This is because it is tempting for governments to spend beyond their own budget constraints or for politicians to enrich themselves at the expense of their citizens’ purchasing power. In short, the Central Bank of Liberia theoretically needs independence to make neutral, politics-free monetary policy decisions without direct political pressures.
We hope all legislators in Liberia take heed and begin to utilize the checks and balance powers afforded them under the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.