MONROVIA, Montserrado â€“ The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, through the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, has contracted the Kroll Associates to assist the Central Bank of Liberia during the printing of an additional L$4 billion in new banknotes.
According to a U.S. Embassy release, the technical assistance aims to assist the bank to more effectively perform its core functions of managing currency and creating the necessary monetary stability for broad-based inclusive economic growth. This assistance comes in the wake of major flaws in the Central Bankâ€™s system associated with recent printing and importation of excess Liberian banknotes.
Kroll Associates, the firm which first investigated allegations of illegal printing excess Liberian Dollar banknotes in February of this year, will coordinate with the government and international partners to undertake what is expected to be an open and competitive procurement process for transparent printing and tracking of shipments of printed currency. The firm will also assist in coordinating the movement of the currency into and out of the Central Bankâ€™s vaults.
Accordingly, a technical team of Krollâ€™s staff will be embedded within the Central Bank for support and toÂ ensure compliance.
â€œBased on the Liberian Legislatureâ€™s consent to the CBL request for currency printing, USAID will hire Kroll Associatesâ€¦ to assist the CBL in procuring an initial, limited run of additional currency to provide the Liberian people easier access to Liberian dollars within six months through a credible, transparent, and traceable process,â€ the U.S. Embassy statement said.
The Kroll team will also support the Bankâ€™s efforts in effectively communicating its role and function, as well as accountability and transparency measures, to the Liberian people and potential investors.
Krollâ€™s assistance, the release disclosed, will be closely aligned with the governmentâ€™s recent engagement with the International Monetary Fund.
â€œRegular consultation with the representatives of the International Monetary Fund in Liberia will also help to ensure that Liberia remains in compliance with the IMF program requirements and guidance,â€ the statement further said.
While Krollâ€™s expertise includes supporting its clients to improve operations, manage compliance and mitigate risks, its engagement with the Central Bank is expected to be fairly limited in scope. The government will, as expected, bear all costs associated with the printing and transporting of the additional banknotes into the country, while USAID will cover the cost of Krollâ€™s support services to the Central Bank.
As the Central Bank pushes for more financial transactions to occur electronically through means such as mobile money transactions, it is hoped that the need for periodic printing of banknotes will ease.
According to USAIDâ€™s Liberia Mission Director, Sara Walter, â€œThe Liberian people deserve a strong Central Bank; the United States is pleased to help the CBL strengthen its capacity to manage the countryâ€™s money supply in a way that helps families across Liberia better meet their basic needs, and fuels inclusive economic growth.â€
â€œGiven Liberiaâ€™s current liquidity situation in which Liberians are having difficulties acquiring sufficient Liberian dollars and with many of the LD banknotes in circulation mutilated, the CBL has determined that at least a limited amount of additional LD banknotes is needed to support the Liberian banking system and its customers,â€ she added.
For his part, the Central Bank Governor, J. Aloysius Tarlue, thanked USAID and the U.S. government for this assistance, while recommitting his team to more efficient operations and policies that will help stabilize the financial crisis and grow the economy.
â€œIt is critical to inspire public confidence in the Central Bank and its operations,â€ Tarlue said.
Featured photo by Jefferson Krua