Home Economy Multiple Financial Dossiers Reveal:US$32.8m Borrowed In Dec, Not US$83M

Multiple Financial Dossiers Reveal:US$32.8m Borrowed In Dec, Not US$83M

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MONROVIA: Multiple financial dossiers obtained by The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT Newspaper appear to show clearer pictures as regard previous exchanges between the immediate past administration of former President George Manneh and the incumbent administration, headed by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.

The exchanges involving both past and current regimes began over the Bank Balances of the Government of Liberia Consolidated Accounts at the State-Owned Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), depicting conflicting financial figures.

Although the rate of the exchanges seems to be decelerating with the release of the audit report concerning the Consolidated Accounts by the State-owned General Auditing Commission (GAC), but some of incumbent President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s loyalists, including Senator Amara Mohammed Konneh of Gbarpolu County, who is also former Minister of Finance and Development Planning are yet to be settled.

Senator Konneh recently took on the erstwhile Weah Administration that it received US$83 million from the CBL as loan at once, something which he said, violates the country’s financial laws.

But, GAC audit findings of the Government’s Consolidated Accounts, released on February 29, 2024, by the Auditor-General of Liberia, P. Garswa Jackson, stated that the erstwhile Weah led government obtained financing of US$32.85 Million from the CBL in December, 2023.

According to the GAC audit report, the additional financing was received by the immediate past administration on December 23, 2023 from the CBL to subsidize the settlement of additional salary payments for civil servants and meeting the previous Weah administration’s commitments to commercial banks.

Other financial dossiers available to this Paper suggest that the exchanges bordering on the US$83 million loan in the corridors of the Senate has been triggered by the result of the past government’s accumulated debts owed the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

Highly placed and unimpeachable insiders of Liberia’s financial sector hinted The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT that ex-President Weah’s request for the December loan was aimed at putting smiles on the faces of public service employees as Liberians were preparing to celebrate the Christmas and New Year Holidays.

In other words, the US$83 million is an accumulation of loans booked and transferred to the Liberian Government’s Payroll account by the Central Bank of Liberia from June to November 2023, aimed at regularizing the payments of Civil Servants’ salaries.

Interestingly, on April 17, 2024, Senator Konneh, via his Social Media post, disclosed that the CBL loaned the erstwhile Weah administration US83 Million in December 2023 alone.

The Senator displayed a copy of the letter written by former Presidential Affairs Minister, J. Wesseh Blamo, to the CBL.

Although, former Minister Blamo’s letter did not mention US$83 million in his communication to the CBL as the past administration requested, Senator Konneh maintains that such a loan from the CBL was a violation of the Constitution of Liberia; Public Financial Management (PFM) Law of 2009 (as amended); and the CBL Act.

The Senator vowed to follow traces of all checks to the vendors who may be connected to said financial transactions.

Howbeit, this paper gathered that CBL operates in line with its Act and as such, it does not engage vendors directly.

It is also established that only the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning that uses the Public Financial Law as it working tool.

Also, as of November 2023, documents and returned checks and financial records showed that the amount of US$50,200,000 had been drawn out as Civil Servants Salary check, covering the period June 2023 to November 2023.

The document indicates that on November 30, 2023, the CBL wrote to then Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, drawing the former Minister’s attention to the build-up of the Government of Liberia’s obligation to the bank.

Former Minister Tweah, in his response, dated December 5, 2023, just six days before President Weah’s December 11, 2023, request, which summed the money up to US83m, indicated that the guarantee to pay the GoL obligations were solely relying on revenue mobilization.

Tweah, in said communication, explained further that as of November 2023, revenue intake had declined, apparently due to Presidential Run-Off elections.

Authoritative sources in the corridor of the Finance Ministry said the Bank chose to put the US83m in the loan category to give incumbent President Boakai a briefing space.

The source said drawing down the loan, which would have been a little over US$13m per month, would have put a strain on Boakai’s young administration, which was just taking over the governance of the country.

On the violations of financial laws, as cited by the Gbapolu County Senator, Amara Konneh, the CBL Act: Section 46 (2) of the Amended and Restatement of the Act establishing the Central Bank of Liberia states:
“Subject to the overall limits specified by this Act, the Central Bank, by decision of the Board of Governors, may extend credit to the Government of Liberia with maturities not exceeding six months only under exceptional circumstances such as war, famine, or other natural disasters. In the event any credit remains unpaid on due date, the debt including accrued interest shall be convened into markable securities with a maximum of 12-maturity which shall bear market related interest rates. The Government shall cooperate with the Central Bank in the issuance of the requisite financial instruments.”

Multiple CBL Board Resolutions viewed by this paper showed that at the end of the Civil War and including the 12-year rule of former President Elen Johnson’s administration, in which Senator Konneh served as Finance and Development Planning Minister, the CBL had not obtained direct Legislative approval for extended borrowing to the government of Liberia.

Records also showed that during the second term of former President Sirleaf, at which time now Senator Konneh served as Finance Minister, the Government of Liberia borrowed US$110,837,196.49 (one hundred ten million, eight hundred thirty-seven thousand, one hundred ninety-six hundred and forty-nine cent) from the CBL without going through the National Legislature.

The Documents further revealed that all credits were based on Board approvals, not Legislative approval, as Senator Konneh now demands.
To date, the total loan owed by Central Government to the CBL, including the 83 million accrued over the years, is over US$570.4 million.

On December 6, 2019, the CBL, under the current Board of Governors and the Government of Liberia, agreed to restructure the GOL’s debts.

That agreement came into effect on January 1, 2020. This ushered the Bank under the IMF program.

The loan (US32.8M) from the CBL by the Weah led former administration was secured during Liberia’s alleged suspension from the IMF program in December of last year. Investigation continues.

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