Former CBL board members Kolli S. Tamba and Melisa Emeh and Board member Elsie Dossen Badio -Reappear on Monday, with Charles Sirleaf, Internal AuditorsThe House of Representatives has unanimously voted to hold former Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Milton Weeks in “contempt” for printing additional L$10.5 billion banknotes without an expressed authority from members of the 53rd Legislature, an action which, according to the House has put the past and current Legislators in disrepute, and has caused unwanted protests that impeded legislative function on Monday, September 24.Former members of the CBL Board of Governors, Kolli S. Tamba and Melisa Emeh and Elsie Dossen Badio, were also placed under contempt charges.The contempt of the Legislature is an offense of obstructing the House in carrying out its functions, or of hindering any legislator in the performance of his or her duties.The motion was made by Nimba County District #8 lawmaker, Representative Larry Younquoi after a closed-door session.The motion carried the three former CBL Governors, and the current Governor, who also served between 2016 to July, 2018, to reappear on Monday, November 19 at 11:00 a.m. before the full Plenary, including former Governor David Farhat, Deputy CBL Governor Charles Sirleaf, CBL Director and Deputy Director for Internal Audit, Adolphus Forpka and Joseph Dennis, respectively, to also appear with evidence as to why they, too, should not be held in contempt for the unauthorized printing of additional L$10.5 billion.The Chief Clerk, according to the motion, was mandated to write President George Weah to expedite those employees of the Executive, who are not in the country to be made to come home before next Monday to appear.The motion was prompted following over four hours of testimonies from the four witnesses but some lawmakers argued that their testimonies cannot be considered as ‘prima facie’ evidence because of inconsistency in their testimonies.A ‘prima facie’ is based on the first impression, accepted as correct until proven otherwise.Former board member Kolli S. Tamba (May 2016 – May 2018), told lawmakers that being aware of continuous back-and-forth meetings with the Legislature in their interpretation, the letter written by the Chief Clerk and the secretary of the Senate was an “expressed authority,” especially with the second-to-last paragraph.“In the view of the above, and with the power assigned with the Legislature under Article 35(d) of the Constitution, this shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority,” Tamba’s letter said.Kolli said the CBL’s resolution was written verbatim based on the letter from the Legislature.Governor Melisa Emeh (January 2016 – January 9, 2018) said for their understanding, the letter from the Legislature meant “Approval” but apologized that the last paragraph was not adhered to, which said: “Meanwhile, the Legislature would request that you furnish with the appropriate details of the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes prior to the printing and minting of coins.”She pointed out that the Board of Governors are policymakers, but the administrative matters or day-to-day activities are taken care of by the Executive Governor and Deputy Executive Governor for Operations.She also stated that deposition of some of the money at a warehouse at the Housing Bank is an old scenario and intended to “spread the risk.” She indicated that the Finance Ministry was paid for using the Housing Bank.Mrs. Elsie Dossen Badio (2016 – present) also admitted seeing the letter from the Legislature and said they understood it to be an authority given the CBL to print additional money. She indicated that LD$15 billion is gradually being infused in the economy.Former Executive Governor Weeks maintained that the letter from the Legislature was interpreted as an authority based on a two-month long conversation with the Legislature.Though the letter did not state the volume and denomination, he stressed that their interpretation was that the Legislature already knew the volume and denomination from the “closed-door meetings.”Weeks denied acting alone to print additional LD$10.5billion and indicated that it was a collective mistake.He, however, admitted failing to inform former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the Legislature with the appropriate details of the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes prior to printing.The former CBL boss further disclosed that coins were minted and are with the CBL with the remaining Liberian banknotes, but stressed that there is no money missing.In adherence to the Legislature’s authorization, the Central Bank convened a Board meeting in which resolution BR-06-/2017 for the printing and replacement of Liberian dollar legacy banknotes was adopted.The resolution cited Article 32(2) of the Central Bank of Liberia Act of 1999, which grants the Central Bank the authority to print and issue Liberian Dollar (LRD) banknotes, albeit with the consent of the Legislature.The resolution referenced the Legislature’s July 19 letter requesting its full consent for the printing and subsequent issuance of new LRD banknotes, the simultaneous replacement of all LRD legacy notes and the introduction of LRD coins in lower denominations.The Board’s resolution authorized the Executive Governor to print more of the new banknotes and mint coins in obedience with the Legislature’s mandate.But a noted Liberian lawyer(name withheld) has told the Daily Observer that the Board of Governors as well as the Executive and the Deputy Executive Governor for operations were in error to have proceeded with the printing of the banknotes. According to the lawyer, the letter purporting to authorize the CBL to proceed with printing was not only irregular but illegal as well.This is because the letter did not bear the signature of the Speaker of the House of Representatives since he is, according to the Constitution, head of the Legislature argued the lawyer. He further maintained two separate letters bearing the signatures of the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate respectively cannot be construed as a having the force of Legislative authority simply because both individuals, by law, lacked the standing to commit the Legislature to any deal or arrangement. As such, according to the lawyer, since what is not done legally is not done at all, the letter of authority unto which former CBL Governors acted was bogus and by extension their decision to print the banknotes was also illegal.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
OTTAWA – Neither Canada nor the United States is experiencing a crisis in asylum claims, says the United Nations’ assistant high commissioner for refugees.Volker Turk, an Austrian in charge of refugee protection for the UN, was in Ottawa this week to meet with Canadian border officials. He said in an interview that Canada’s recent spike in irregular migrants is nothing compared to the millions of refugees who pour every year into much poorer countries.Likewise, the migrant caravan making its way through Mexico toward the United States, numbering in the low thousands of people, is small compared to the vast migrations borne in recent years by countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, which have taken in over five million Syrian refugees.“A lot of the media debate that we often see is that there are hordes of people coming to the industrialized world — that’s absolutely not true,” Turk said.North America has largely been shielded from the true global crisis of 68.5 million displaced persons in the world fleeing war and conflict, he said.“I think it’s important to put everything in perspective and to bear in mind that when people talk about a ‘crisis’ these days, these crises are far away from North America or from Europe, they are taking place often in the poorest countries in the world who need our support, need our solidarity and who need also our humanity.”Political rhetoric whipping up public concern over the asylum-seekers has been rising in recent weeks, led by politicians in both Canada and the United States.In Canada, the federal Conservatives regularly refer to the influx of tens of thousands of asylum seekers crossing “irregularly” into Canada via non-official entry points from the U.S. as a border crisis and have used the issue to galvanize their base and criticize the Liberal government.In the U.S., President Donald Trump has spoken more and more harshly on the issue of “illegal aliens” as he continues to push for a wall across his country’s border with Mexico. In the lead-up to the American midterm elections this week, he was especially aggressive on the migrant caravan: he said its participants are part of an invasion and has deployed the military to the border.Nevertheless, Turk said, the U.S. continues to have a “robust” asylum system with checks and balances.Turk said 90 per cent of the world’s refugees who cross international borders do so far away from both Canada and the United States.“I think it is important never to lose sight of what we face globally today. The real crises in this world are in the Ugandas of this world, are in Turkey, are in Jordan, are in Lebanon, are in Ethiopia, are in Pakistan and Iran, where countries host literally millions of refugees year in and year out,” he said.Canada has indeed been cognizant of this and has been closely monitoring the rise in migration patterns, particularly in the Americas, according to government documents obtained under access-to-information law.Officials within the International Trade Department have raised concerns about this, notably over how the Trump administration’s “hard-line rhetoric” could lead to an influx of irregular migrants from Central America into Canada.Trump has moved to end temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals living in the U.S. and has vowed to kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for people who grew up in the U.S. after their parents brought them illegally as minors.Canadian officials noted in a September 2017 briefing document that two-thirds of America’s DACA beneficiaries are Mexican nationals, and warned that if a lot of them decided to come to Canada, it would place tremendous pressure on Canada’s asylum system.Canada has been working with Turk’s agency to help Mexico build its capacity to handle asylum claims from Central Americans. The work has included training provided by Canadian immigration officials to their Mexican counterparts on assessing refugee claims and protecting claimants.Turk says the effort has already seen success, with asylum applications in Mexico rising from 2,000 in 2016 to 10,000 in 2017.“Mexico traditionally has been a country of transit, so many people did not apply for asylum,” he said. “Even in the last couple of days we have seen an increase in asylum applications (in Mexico), so it’s obvious that Mexico needs support both when it comes to the asylum system as well as when it comes to helping them integrate refugees.”— Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.