In the past 50 years there have been coins on which are depicted U.S. presidents, dinosaurs, and even Chinese lunar zodiac animals. These have been issued in denominations ranging from a dollar to as much as 2,500 dollars.
The problem with these coins are that they aren’t money. It is doubtful any of them have ever been in Liberia. You couldn’t spend or redeem them in Liberia should you bring them there. All were produced for promoters outside Liberia who made deals with the Liberian governments (there have been several) through which for a fee these promoters can issue coins in the name of Liberia without any legal repercussions.
Whenever a promoter can make a deal with a third world nation to issue coins in the name of that nation the promoter can contract to choose the subjects that will appear on those issues. Subjects chosen are meant to be targeted to a specific market segment, these subjects seldom having anything to do with the country in whose name the coins were issued. For this reason, everything from racing cars to the ill-fated ship Titanic have appeared on coins issued in the name of such nations.
Liberia is about to try something new. The country plans to issue five- and 10-dollar coins for circulation as legal tender money as part of a currency reform package planned to be introduced in December.
Bank notes to accompany these two-coin denominations will commence with a 100-dollar bill that according to Musa Kamara, special assistant to Executive Governor J. Aloysius Tarlue is meant to ease the persistent shortage of dollars. The issue is timed to coincide with the Christmas holiday season. Kamara was speaking on the central bank’s public affairs program Money Matters, broadcast on state run radio ELBC.
According to Kamara, the Central Bank of Liberia is working with the US company Kroll and Associates, USAID, and the International Monetary Fund to print a new family of bank notes with additional security features. This will be part of a two-year currency reform through which first some of the new money will be introduced late this year, followed by a withdrawal of the soon-to-be obsolete older bank notes early during 2022. Nothing was said about what will be featured on the coins or bank notes, nor were details immediately available regarding the metal from which the coins will be minted.
Kamara said, “There is no reason why the public should panic, the three bank notes will work hand-in-hand until the old bank notes are replaced” (Kamara did not identify the other two planned bank note denominations.)
LCB Currency Reform Committee member William G. Jlorplay added, “Thanks to USAID for all the financial support for Kroll to be with us. Our target is to mop out the 25 billion in circulation. By 2022 she should be able to mop out 50 to 60 percent then by 2023 the entire 25 billion will be out of circulation; we have all of the control in place.”
Jlorplay continued, “We have security features that will make it actually difficult to counterfeit the bank notes. We are monitoring the Liberian dollars in the economy, given the current monetary policy of the CBL, there will not be an issue of inflation,”
Five-dollar bank notes known as Liberty notes due to a vignette of Liberia’s heraldry replaced ‘JJ’ notes on which J.J. Roberts appears in 1991. Since that time notes in several denominations have been issued on which vignettes of former presidents appear. A 500-dollar denomination note was added to the mix in 2016, the note having an exchange value of $5.50 U.S. at that time. Due to inflation the note has a significantly lower exchange value now.
Individuals who phoned in to the Money Matters broadcast indicated their major concerns were both potential counterfeiting and inflation caused by an infusion of a large amount of money being introduced.
Jlorplay said, “We have security features that will make it actually difficult to counterfeit the bank notes,” adding, “We are monitoring the Liberian dollars in the economy, given the current monetary policy of the CBL, there will not be an issue of inflation.”