IMF Concludes Economic Review Mission To Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone – May 7, 2019: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) just concluded a Review Mission to Sierra Leone in West Africa and has published a report of its findings:

Sierra Leone Finance-Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa
Sierra Leone Finance-Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa
  • The Sierra Leone authorities and IMF mission concluded discussions, ad referendum, on economic policies to pave the way for consideration by the IMF Executive Board of the first review under the ECF-supported program.
  • Continued actions to mobilize revenue and manage public finances remain key priorities to reduce public debt and create fiscal space for investing in people and infrastructure.
  • Stepping up structural reform efforts will be crucial to managing fiscal risks, ensuring greater accountability, and diversifying the economy for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.

 

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Karen Ongley, visited Freetown during April 23-May 7, 2019 to conduct the first review of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement approved by the Executive Board on November 30, 2018.

At the end of the visit, Ms. Ongley issued the following statement:

“The economic landscape in Sierra Leone remains challenging. Yet, the authorities navigated these difficulties well in the year since taking office, helping to stabilize the economy. Real GDP looks set to pick up this year to 5.1 percent, thanks in part to the resumption of iron ore mining. After peaking above 19 percent last September, inflation moderated to 17.5 percent in March and is projected to continue tracking down over 2019.

“Faced with serious constraints on budget financing, the authorities kept the budget in check through stronger‑than‑programmed revenue performance and spending well below the budget. As a result, the overall deficit narrowed from 8.8 percent in 2017 to 5.8 percent in 2018. However, delays in donor receipts and uneven liquidity in the banking system, posed challenges for deficit financing and monetary policy, and impacted program performance.

“While program performance is broadly on track, slower than expected progress on structural reforms reflects the magnitude of policy challenges. Nine of the ten quantitative targets were met for end‑December 2018 and end‑March 2019. However, the Net Domestic Assets of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) at end‑December 2018 exceeded the program target (performance criterion), partly due to BSL’s credit to government and continued foreign exchange market sales to stem depreciation of the Leone. Moreover, three of five structural benchmarks—the forensic audit of the BSL, developing a strategic plan for the two state-owned banks, and a strategy for clearing domestic arrears—have been delayed, as the underlying issues are proving to be more complex than anticipated.

“With this in mind, the Sierra Leonean authorities and the mission reached understandings, ad referendum, on economic policies aimed at enhancing accountability in managing public resources, diversifying the economy and promoting more resilient and inclusive growth. The authorities’ commitment to mobilizing domestic revenue and improving expenditure management to achieve a gradual reduction in the deficit will help ensure that public debt returns to a sustainable path. Notwithstanding pressures on the budget, the authorities will safeguard poverty-reducing spending and other priority spending under the Government’s National Development Plan. Limiting the recourse to domestic financing will also reinforce the BSL’s objective of bringing inflation down to single digits by the end of the program. Maintaining a flexible exchange rate system and increasing foreign exchange reserves will boost resilience to economic shocks.

Sierra -Leone
Sierra -Leone

“The authorities have calibrated their policies to address longstanding vulnerabilities, but this also requires maintaining policy discipline and stamina. Notwithstanding their ambitious revenue goals, the program reflects a more cautious revenue assumption as a buffer to deal with fiscal risks, such as reliance on donor financing, the large outstanding stock of domestic arrears, and high prospective debt service payments. Stepping up efforts on the structural reforms underpinning the program is crucial to the goals of managing fiscal risks and ensuring greater accountability for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.

“The IMF’s Executive Board is expected to consider first ECF review by end-June 2019. Completion of the review would make available SDR 15.56 million (US$ 21.5 million), bringing total disbursements under the program to about SDR 31 million (US$ 43 million).

“The mission met with Vice President Jalloh, Minister of Finance Jacob Saffa, Deputy Minister of Finance Patricia Laverley, Governor of BSL Kelfala Kallon, Finance Secretary Sahr Jusu, other senior government and BSL officials, representatives of the financial sector, civil society, and development partners. Mr. Kingsley Obiora, Alternate Executive Director representing Sierra Leone, also joined the concluding meetings.

“The mission wishes to thank the Sierra Leonean authorities for their warm hospitality, and the constructive and rich discussions during our visit to Freetown.”

Source: IMF Communications

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE RECENT POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN LIBERIA NOVEMBER 21, 2018

I was a member of the Cabinet on November 7, 2011, when the headquarters of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), then an opposition political party where the scene of violence and unwarranted bloodshed took place. 

Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods, Founder- Liberia Law Society

Despite my position in government at the time and holding true to my values as a human rights advocate, I condemned the government’s actions, the senseless tragedy and bloodletting; and declared the act a bad omen for our democracy. I called for a full investigation of the incident, emphasized the need for accountability, and demanded the reopening of radio stations that were summarily closed in the aftermath of the incident.  An independent Committee was later appointed, inquiry conducted and some of its recommendations implemented.

Today, in the wake of the recent election-related violence in District#13, I am painfully reminded of that November 7, 2011 incident and concerned that bloody political contests searing our conscience and decency might become the new norm. 

I hereby condemn the Saturday November 17, 2018 act of lawlessness and call on the Government to conduct a comprehensive investigation and ensure that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice. “There must be no sacred cows”.

The violent incident over the weekend casts a cloud over the elections in District #13 undermining faith that theprocess and its outcome will be free, fair and transparent. It also puts a dent in the gains made over the years in consolidating our nascent democracy. This is an onslaught on human rights and a threat to peace and stability. However, it is convincingly reinforcing the case for accountability in Liberia.  The indifference and disdain for human dignity persists due to the level of impunity indulged by our government and people.

 Liberians have suffered over the years and would spare no price to resist attempts to intimidate, harass and impose inhumane treatment against those whose only crime is to freely associate and participate in a democratic competition and fulfill the full enjoyment of their fundamental rights

Flag of Liberia

We have had Two dark Novembers where blood has been shed and people killed for exercising their rights and civic duties. With victims of the previous incident now governors of the state, a repeat of this act of violence is unconscionable and unacceptable. Liberians look forward to a redemption of history and a conscious effort by the current leadership of this country to demonstrate its commitment to the tenets of democracy and peace. Government must realize that it is the agent responsible to protect all Liberians, not just some Liberians.

In view of these unfolding developments, I call for the following:

1. A comprehensive investigation into the election-related violence that occurred over the weekend of November 17, 2018 and the incident involving the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Executive Protection Services (EPS) on Sunday, November 18, 2018.
2. All named perpetrators must be brought to justice
3. All religious, civil and political organizations must ensure redress for the victims of such violence and campaign for the necessary punitive measures and sanctions against individuals and organizations who continue to engage in violence in our country; thereby undermining our peace;
4. The National Legislature must conduct open session on these events and act to secure and protect our fledging democracy;
5. International and regional organizations must take note of these developments and act to sanction individuals and organizations that seek to undermine the democratic gains made by our country;
6. Where the Liberian Government fails to act properly, individuals are encouraged to take advantage of other avenues including the ECOWAS Court to ensure that government’s duty under international and domestic laws are adhered to;

7.      Any investigation must consider the violation of the code of conduct for public officials and the extent to which it has been violated.

The Liberia Law Society is open to participate as a full partner to ensure that these recommendations and other suggestions are considered and implemented. IF IT WAS WRONG THEN IT IS WRONG NOW!

Signed:

Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods, II

Legal Consultant & Founder

Liberia Law Society