Distinguished Members of the Press
On behalf of the Board of Governors and Senior Management of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), let me thank you for responding to our invitation for this brief press statement, which is intended to inform the public about the official commencement of the currency exchange exercise. We want to express our gratitude to the media community for your continuous support in this process, in educating the public and creating the awareness and even your criticism, all of which have helped us remain focused.
Distinguished members of the press, based on the decision of the Board of Governors, I am pleased to announce that the exchange exercise will officially commence this week, beginning tomorrow, Thursday, October 6, 2022, starting with the L$20 and L$50 denomination.
As at today, the Bank has received a total of L$1.9935 billion of the L$50 and L$20 denominations. This batch came between September 4 and September 19, 2022. The Bank has completed the quality control of these banknotes in line with CBL’s specifications. The coins are expected in the country before the end of October 2022.
We expect to receive a total of L$34,533,500,000.00, including the initial L$8,000,000,000.00 of the new banknotes that was brought in between November 2021 and February 2022 and a total of L$462,900,000.00 coins by the end of 2022. This will comprise all the existing denominations, including the L$1,000 denomination, which is being introduced for the first time. The remaining amount will be brought into the country in 2024. For purpose of clarity, no banknotes or coins will be brought into the country in 2023. However, the exchange exercise will continue with the banknotes and coins that will be in the country.
As we have repeatedly said, there is no need to rush. All existing banknotes in circulation will be exchanged at their full value without any discount in value. The Bank is mindful about giving specific deadline at this time, to avoid unnecessary rush and unintended consequences that could undermine the exchange process. As such, the Bank will decide on the duration of the exchange exercise as the exercise progresses and we have a better appreciation of the operational challenges. We want to avoid the mistakes of the other countries in rushing the exercise.
In keeping with the mandate of the National Legislature, the exchange exercise will be solely conducted through the commercial banks and other regulated financial institutions, in collaboration with the commercial banks. As agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we signed in February, we expect the commercial banks to adhere to their obligations under the MoU, including catering to non-account holders, which comprise mainly ordinary Liberians through special windows.
Considering the challenges faced by the commercial banks and limited branch network across the country, the CBL is working on a strategy to decentralize the exchange exercise through its cash hub in Gbarnga, Bong County and other approved facilities under the direct control and supervision of the Bank, to ensure that all parts of the country are covered. In addition to ensuring the timely delivery of the new currency in the country, the CBL has also been working to put in place the necessary logistical and operational capacities, to ensure the smooth implementation of the exchange exercise.
As we commence this exercise, we urge the public, the commercial banks, the business community, and all key stakeholders to work with the Bank to ensure a smooth and successful exercise. The CBL alone cannot do it; we need the support of everyone. This is the first time that the country is undertaking such a huge national initiative. Therefore, it is important that we take due care to protect the integrity of the process.
Finally, on behalf of the Board and Management, I would like to express our in-depth gratitude once again to the President, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, Sr. and the 54th National Legislature for their support in this process.
We are also grateful to our external partners, notably the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the US Embassy, for their financial, technical, and moral support in this process. We are particularly grateful to Kroll & Associates from the UK, who worked with the Bank throughout this process, providing technical assistance to the Bank, with funding from USAID.
We want to thank the Liberian people for their patience and cooperation with the Bank, especially with the constraints imposed by the scarcity of change in the economy.
Thank you and God bless you.