Contradictions Over ‘Billions’ Saga
-Who’s Lying or Who’s Telling The Truth?
-But Time Will Tell As Investigation Unfolds
Recently, Liberians were given rude awakening over the reported missing of a container truck that allegedly contained billions of printed banknotes in Liberian dollars.
The apparently disheartening reported was greeted with mixed reactions, not only from the public but from former and current officials of Government who gave various version of the entire story, a situation that makes a difficult to establishment whether or not money actually got missing or how much got missing if there was any and or excess money printed other than what was authorized.
These questions, amongst thousands, appear extremely difficult to answer in the absence of empirical investigative findings which many logical Liberians are looking up to inform their decisions over the entire narrative other than making loose comments characterized by political prejudice and hatred.
However, As The Public Agenda is carefully following the various debates, it is tempted to disagree with some of the insinuations that 16 or 15 billions of Liberian dollars have disappeared in thin air and cannot be accounted for.First, Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagba said, over 15 billions of Liberian dollars went missing; the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Musa Dean declared that 9 billion dollars got missing; Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and former Central Bank Governor, Milton Weeks are in unison in their initial testimonies in the court of public opinions.
The Finance Minister and the former Bank Governor totally disagreed with any report of missing 16 billions; they only confirmed and put the value of the amount printed at 15 billion Liberian dollars.According to the Finance Minister, if 16 or 9 billion is missing as been alleged, the Liberian economy would totally collapse; he added that the new Liberian banknotes that are in circulation are part of the 15 billion that was printed.
But there are those who strongly believe that indeed, money might have gone missing, adding that perhaps, it could be more or less than what is been reported, something some Liberians believe would be established at the end of the investigation which President George Manneh Weah has called for.
There are other reports that excess money came into the country and kept at the Freeport of Monrovia at a warehouse which belongs to a Lebanese Businessman prior to or during the electoral period in 2017; according to the report, it this excess money the economic vultures or vampires were playing from the Freeport.
However, Pres. Weah,amid escalating tension in the country, has assured Liberians that no one would be spared in missing ‘billion’ saga; he warned that those who would be caught for wrong doing after the ongoing investigations would be dealt with. He urged all Liberians to remain calm.
Addressing the nation Friday night, Pres. Weah asked all citizens to remain calm and to be patient, adding that those involved with the ongoing investigation should cooperate, since he has asked for the help of investigators from abroad to assist in the process.
However, Many Liberians are still confused over the exact amount of moneys that have been allegedly stolen or declared missing from the nation’s Central Bank in view of conflicting reports from senior government officials.
Former Liberian leader, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf agreed with current Finance Minister’s position on the saga. According to Madam Sirleaf over BBC that she was surprised at the existence of such a large amount as the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has not reached that level.
Madam Sirleaf and former Governor Weeks have however confirmed that the monies were only printed in Sweden and not in China and Lebanon.
As for the Justice Minister, he said in a press release that the LD$16 Billion came through the Freeport and the Roberts International Airport respectively sometimes in November 2017 and in August 2018.
Below is the transcript of the President’s full address to the nation shortly before leaving to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. (As delivered)
“Fellow citizens over the past 15 years together we have achieved peace and unity. Let’s continue to build on this peace. I want to inform you that an investigation is ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the money brought into the country by the Central bank of Liberia and we will not rest until the facts are established and your questions are answered.
I ask all citizens to be patient and those involved in the investigation to cooperate. I am confident that in the end, we will come to a logical conclusion into the circumstances surrounding this money and anyone caught in any financial malfeasance will be held accountable to the full extent. I can assure you, my fellow Liberians, proper accountability of the money in question is vital to my government’s ability to improve your lives.
As we accelerate our investigations for which I have invited international partners to join in advising us to ensure transparency. Let’s us remain calm and have faith in the process.
I believe that the mandate I received from you is a mandate to end corruption in public service and I remain fully committed to this task. I promise to deliver on this mandate and I will not let you down.
God bless Liberia.”