Liberia: Governor Patray Destroys Central Bank’s Credibility

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    The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has admitted providing false and misleading data regarding the country’s spending and borrowing information.

    Published January 25, 2019, the Bank’s annual report for 2018 showed that Liberia recorded a fiscal deficit of US$225.5 million, representing 7.0 percent of GDP.

    The report also indicated that between 2016 and 2017 the fiscal deficit grew by US$32.6 million and increased by US$25.9million from 2017 to 2018.

    “Government revenue (including grants) amounted to US$402.2 million (12.5 percent of GDP) reflecting a 12.7 percent decline compared with 2017. The fall in revenue (including grants) during the year was occasioned by shortfall in both tax revenue and non-tax revenue,” it said.

    “Tax revenue fell by 14.9 percent due to declines in taxes on international trade, sales taxes on goods and services, and taxes on income and profits. International trade taxes fell by 20.7 percent to US$154.0 million as a result of drop in collection of taxes and duties on imports, while taxes on income and profits fell by 5.2 percent to US$129.9 million due to slowdown in tax receipt on households’ income and profits.”

    But in a February 12, 2018 statement, Mr. Nathaniel Patray, CBL Executive Governor announced that data contained in the bank’s 2018 report were altogether inaccurate and misleading.

    “The CBL notes that the numbers reported in the fiscal section of the report are not reflective of the fiscal positions of current and previous fiscal periods,” he said.

    “Consequently, the CBL has therefore removed the fiscal section in its report,“ the statement maintained.

    For the first time since its establishment in 1999, the CBL reputation and credibility has been called into question mainly on account of this singular act under Governor Patray.

    Financial experts and the general public have opined that Governor Patray’s signing and release of false financial information and its subsequent withdrawal has cast public doubt over the Bank’s reputation with respect to providing accurate and reliable financial and economic information.

    – Festus Poquie