MONROVIA: A ranking member of the Committee on Banking and Currency of the House of Representatives, Richard Koon, says the shortage of cash in the country is due to the George Weah administration’s failure to settle its huge debts with local commercial banks, in the tone of a whopping L$6.4 billion.
Phoning in on the OK Morning Rush recently, Representative Koon added that the money was accumulated over the years as a result of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government alleged refusal to settle its debt which, according to him, was generated from the payment of civil servants’ salaries.
He, however, added that the government is pushing for the printing of additional Liberian dollar banknotes to settle its debts and address the ongoing cash shortage in the country.
The Montserrado County District #11 Representative, at the same time, recommended that the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) should collect taxes in Liberian dollars instead of United States dollars. According to the Legislator, such measure will help mitigate the current financial difficulties in the country.
Meanwhile, responding to Representative Koon’s assertion, Deputy Minister of Finance for Economic Affairs, Augustus Flomo, questioned the basis of the lawmaker’s statement, noting that the Liberian government is doing everything possible to meet up with its obligations with commercial banks.
Deputy Minister Flomo who did not confirm or deny assertion that the government owes commercial banks L$6.4 billion said though government is faced with domestic liabilities with commercial banks, the situation is being handled.
“Well, I don’t know where exactly he was speaking from, I really wish to sit with him on a bigger platform for some hours to discuss details of his assertion,” Deputy Minister Flomo mentioned.
Apart, a high-profiled bank executive hinted this paper that the Liberian government’s debts with commercial banks has swelled to nearly US$60 million and is yet to be paid.
Recently, the United States Embassy in Monrovia issued a stern warning to its citizens and permanent residents visiting Liberia of the difficulties in getting cash in Liberia.
The embassy in an alert to would be travelers noted that the banking sector in the country has been experiencing cash shortage over the last several months. It also noted that ATM machines often do not dispense money.
“As a consequence, it is difficult to obtain adequate cash supplies from ATMs and banks. There are no ATM facilities for public use at the U.S. Embassy,” the Embassy stated.
As per regulation, travelers would have to declare cash amount of US$10,000 and above upon arrival in Liberia. Passenger may however, be allowed to enter with US$7,500 or less.