COVID-19 pandemic – IMF approves $21.13 million to help stabilise Sierra Leone economy  

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 April 2020:

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), yesterday announced the disbursement of $21.13 million to Sierra Leone, after completing its second review of the country’s economic  performance, under the program supported by the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF).

This brings the total disbursements under this IMF arrangement to about US$63.39 million.

According to the IMF, the $21.13 Million underscores the Fund’s ongoing commitment to help Sierra Leone tackle any potential economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which analysts are expecting to be massive – possibly running into hundreds of millions of Dollars.

Sierra Leone’s economy is facing massive challenges, with falling export revenue after the government’s decision to terminate and suspend the operations of several mining companies in the country.

In the last three years, the country’s currency – the Leone, has seen a drop of over 40% in its value, against key global currencies; unemployment – especially youth unemployment is over 70%; and rising cost of living is seriously affecting millions of households.

With falling export revenue, the government is struggling to meet its commitment to maintaining basic public services such as healthcare, and reliable supply of clean, drinking water.

But the IMF says that the government’s continued reform efforts will help build the foundation necessary to support future development and tackle the exceptionally difficult external environment.

Yesterday’s announcement also includes the IMF’s approval of the government’s request for a waiver of non-observance of a performance criterion – the government’s “inadvertent omission of securities issued to the nonbank sector” which led to “a breach of the performance criterion on net credit to the government.”

But according to the IMF, “the  authorities took the necessary corrective actions and measures to avoid re-occurrence of misreporting”.

Yesterday’s announcement also says – on a positive note, that “the government’s reform agenda, supported by the ECF, aims to create fiscal space for development needs by strengthening revenue mobilization, containing current spending and improving the efficiency of public investment”.

And that, “in the critical and uncertain period ahead, the Fund is committed to working closely with the Government to help address the priority health and economic needs to combat the fallout of the COVID‑19 pandemic”.

Following the IMF Executive Board’s discussion, Mr. Geoffrey Okamoto, Acting Chair and First Deputy Managing Director, made the following statement:

“Sierra Leone continued to make good progress under the Fund‑supported program. The authorities have demonstrated firm commitment to their reform agenda.

“While the program’s medium‑term goals remain appropriate to enable future growth and development, the dramatic onset of the global COVID‑19 pandemic poses significant near‑term risks.

“Combating the economic fallout of the crisis and protecting the health of Sierra Leoneans should be the immediate priority.

“The authorities’ cautious fiscal policy has been important. They have made commendable progress in mobilizing domestic revenue and prudent execution of budgeted expenditures. This has stabilized domestic borrowing needs and allowed inflation pressures to ease.

“The 2020 budget appropriately balances the tight fiscal position and meeting development needs. In line with the Government National Development Plan, the budget prioritizes investing in education and provisions for repaying legacy arrears as part of a broader arrears clearance strategy.

“The authorities will need to prioritize additional spending to help cushion the impact of COVID‑19.

“Managing fiscal risks and securing debt sustainability remain the medium‑term priority. Continued revenue mobilization will require both tax administration and policy reforms. Deeper public financial management reforms will further improve budget planning and execution, including preventing new arrears. A strategic plan for the two state‑owned banks will be instrumental in addressing underlying fiscal risks.

“Monetary policy remains appropriately focused on reducing inflation to single digits over the medium term. Redoubling efforts to implement the new central bank law and the forensic audit action plan will be critical to strengthening operational effectiveness.

“Continued actions to reduce strains on the foreign exchange market and preserve exchange rate flexibility are also critical to boost resilience.

“The inadvertent omission of securities issued to the nonbank sector gave rise to a breach of the performance criterion on net credit to the government. The authorities took the necessary corrective actions and measures to avoid re-occurrence of misreporting.’’

In the last forty-eight hours, the government of Sierra Leone has received a total of $28.63  million, from both the World Bank and the IMF to help the people of Sierra Leone combat the Coronavirus and the economic impact this crisis may have on the population of about 7 million people.

The Board had approved Sierra Leone’s 43‑month ECF arrangement for SDR124.44 million (about US$172.1 million) on November 30, 2018 (see Press Release No. 18/446).

12 Comments

  1. David Bangura says “Little did I know that Ernest Koroma had a different plan. No sooner did he assume power than he started purging non-Northerners from government jobs.So, instead of APC’s Ernest Koroma healing the regional and ethnic rift in the country, he raised it to a level never seen in the history of our country.”

    Once again, one common theme among delusional die-hard POAPA supporters is the level of hypocrisy and the tendency to act indifferent whenever their so called political gods target none SLPP sympathizers, summarily subjected them to inhuman treatments inducing polarizing shockwaves reverberating across the globe. Barely 3 months into their administration, the Bio regime were so eager to bring onboard their loyal party supporters – majority of whom hail from the South-East region of the country that, a tribalistic Marshall plan was formulated by the POAPA elites with a disguise of reforming the civil service.

    https://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/president-bio-orders-a-review-of-the-employment-of-top-civil-servants/

    http://www.exclusivenewspaper.com/800-civil-servants-to-lose-jobs/

    Once the curtains were closed, a targeted summarily sacking of mainly individuals whose last names are deemed to have a tie with the Northern region were executed. In a twinkle of an eye, over 1000 civil servants working at the Marine resources, immigration, and NATCOM were dismissed from work for solely having ties to the North or deemed to be APC sympathizers. Cold hearted die-hard supporters like David Bangura will never wince by such polarizing acts but will hypocritically make a fuss when the tables are turned.

    https://cocorioko.net/civil-society-is-concerned-over-the-dismissal-of-civil-and-public-servants-in-disregard-of-due-processes-of-the-law/

    Now in regards to donor funds being withheld by our international partners in 2007, again, only die-hard delusional PAOPA supporters like David Bangura will ignorantly deny that it never happened. In given you the benefit of the doubt, I have provided local and international reporting links below of what transpires and the state of Sierra Leone in 2007 prior to the APC taken over governance.

    http://www.ipsnews.net/2008/09/sierra-leone-building-peace/

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231901786_Rogue_incumbents_donor_assistance_and_Sierra_Leone's_second_post-conflict_elections_of_2007

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jun/10/development.westafrica

  2. The tendency for this Bio led government to squander this IMF money highly exist there. All present government officials came to governance broken and penniless. Some of them were not working for several years and are set to capitalize on every opportunity to settle themselves first before considering the ruled. They’re hyper desperate to build mansions and buy expensive cars.

    To guarantee free plundering without questioning, they have expressly killed the liberty to criticize them through human rights abuses and unconstitutionality. Whoever raises a critical voice against their misrule would have party thugs released on him for thorough beating. Any journalists attempting to ask honestly critical questions will be beaten up mercilessly and tag as APC journalists to justify to their brainwashed supporters the reasons for beating them.

    Fayia Amara Fayia, a popular journalist was beaten up brutally in Kenema by soldiers, thugs and police officers loyal to SLPP, and no other person dared asked questions on his case including Umaru Fofana. Fayia was left in a wheelchair and got admitted at the Kenema government hospital. He was on his sick bed yesterday when policemen barged into his ward, pick him from the hospital bed and locked him up in a police cell to pass his lockdown there in brutal beaten pains. No medical attention will be given to him whatsoever!

    So these IMF beneficiaries have done everything to guarantee siphoning public funds into personal coffers and nobody would dare ask them questions. Of course you all know that the Human Right Commission in Sierra is non-existent. The courts headed by SLPP party card carriers like, Napoleon Koroma, SLPP Secretary General acts on the dictum of governing politicians. They do what they want them do. The Parliament has been paralyzed since MPs were humiliatingly beaten in the Well and 10 duly elected MPs were removed and replaced by ‘strangers’.

    The man controversially appointed to head the ACC under this government is now known for his quickness in jumping to defend SLPP politicians. Instead of investigating the $1.5 million dollars corruption allegation against Chief Minister who has now build himself twin mansions (something he was not able to do in his entire time in UK) Ben Kaifala naively jumped to defend him like he has just shamelessly defended Edna Kargbo, on her viral video making revelations in Nigeria on how she was able to build a magnificent house having just worked under president Bio for nine months.

    Fifty thousand bags of rice donated by China for school children have all been stolen by some SLPP government officials. When Ben Kaifala of ACC went to investigate, he ended up picking and choosing who is to charge to court, leaving many Sierra Leoneans astounded on how he had openly carved out a crooked scheme to leave sacred cows thriving in corruption. There and then young and old, the enlightened concluded that SLPP government officials are in for more stealing than their predecessors.

    No account is given about the Presidential wedding where it’s suspected 20 billion Leones is taken from the public coffer for the process. When SLPP newly took over governance, they gave regular reports on how much revenue they were able to collect every two weeks. Are they still doing that? NO! Why have they stopped doing that? You can go ask that critical question but pray that you do not end up beaten for intensifying pressure on them for Accountability.

    To me, IMF with that money have just feathered the nest of the greedy politicians and exacerbated the suffering of the masses who would know about the money being in but could only cry in silence that it’s not used in their interest. Sad!

    • Mr Sesay it looks like you are new to this forum. Your comment has breached our word limit rule but as this is your first comment, I will let it go. In future please stick to the 5 paragraphs rule – each paragraph having no more than five lines, otherwise the entire comment will be deleted. Thank you.

    • Welcome Mr. Ibrahim S. Sesay. What a perfect and brilliant summary of total chaos and corruption by the Bio Administration. Thumbs up Mr. Ibrahim S. Sesay. “Nor Men Den”. God bless Mr. Ibrahim S. Sesay for his straight talk.

  3. It’s common to hear die-hard SLPP supporters declare that the IMF withheld donor funds during the months leading to the 2018 elections. What they are hypocritically failing to mention is that, the exact same action was taken by the international community in 2007 months before the election that ushered in APC.

    In both cases, the incumbent government was found to be highly corrupted and had failed miserably to alleviate the poor living conditions of the citizens.

    • “It’s common to hear die-hard SLPP supporters declare that the IMF withheld donor funds during the months leading to the 2018 elections. What they are hypocritically failing to mention is that, the exact same action was taken by the international community in 2007 months before the election that ushered in APC.” Young4na

      Young4na, your comments were not addressed to me. But let me start by stating that I am not a die-hard supporter of any political party and never will be one. I have supported different parties at different times based on the prevailing political atmosphere. For example, I supported Dr. John Karefa Smart’s United National People’s Party (UNPP) in 1996, then, the alliance between PMDC and APC in 2007.

      My support for the PMDC-APC alliance emanated from my belief that a coalition between a former SLPP leader who hailed from the South and an APC man from the North was good for political, ethnic and regional unity in Sierra Leone. Little did I know that Ernest Koroma had a different plan. No sooner did he assume power than he started purging non-Northerners from government jobs.

      So, instead of APC’s Ernest Koroma healing the regional and ethnic rift in the country, he raised it to a level never seen in the history of our country. This started my opposition and campaign against the APC.

      In 2018, I supported Julius Maada Bio’s SLPP as I was convinced that Ernest Koroma, by any measure, was the worst politician to have ever emerged in Sierra Leone. He was corrupt, tribalistic and regionalistic. Besides, I didn’t consider Samura Kamara a qualified candidate for the headman position of Komalu let alone Sierra Leone. He was Ernest Koroma’s water carrier ready and willing to be controlled remotely from Makeni.

      Bio, undoubtedly, has made a few mistakes. For example, I see no reason why he declared a 12-month state of emergency. But who am I to judge the man when a parliament composed of many APC, NGC and C4C stalwarts supported the president? And notwithstanding this, presidents must be graded based on their entire body of work and not just on how they respond to isolated emerging circumstances. A look at Bio’s entire body of work since assuming power earns him a passing grade. Thus, unlike the armchair critics, especially in the Diaspora, I see no reason to attack president Bio.

      You use the term “international community” in your comments. That term is an abstract term that many times refer to the countries of the world collectively. Did the countries of the world withhold donor funds from Sierra Leone in 2007 as you insinuate? I vehemently disagree with you. In fact, Sierra Leone was a big beneficiary of foreign debt forgiveness in that year. So, the APC that you go to bed worshiping every night assumed power with no foreign debt to worry about. What did the APC stalwarts do? They ran the country to the ground through graft, overt tribalism and regionalism.

      Thus, while Ahmad Tejan Kabbah may not have been a saint, it is ingenious on any level to mention his name in the same sentence as the unscrupulous Ernest Bai Koroma. Unlike the charlatan and swindling Koroma, Kabbah was a democrat and a visionary leader who at every given moment had the best of intentions for his country.

      Be rest assured that I am closely monitoring Bio’s government and would not hesitate to go on the attack if that government deviates from its positive record so far.

    • “You used the word ‘International Community’ in your comments. That term is an abstract term that many times refer to the countries of the world collectively. Did the countries of the world withhold donor funds from Sierra Leone in 2007 as you insinuate?” – David Bangura.

      Of course, YES, Mr David Bangura. The IMF is just a bank like any other bank on the High Street. The IMF does not hold money, and hasn’t got any money of its own – it solicits money from the International Community and directs these funds to struggling economies around the world. The IMF is just like a ‘middleman’ and at times, its activities can be influenced by donor countries – as in this case in question. The main worry is that the IMF is strongly assuming the role of Central Banks in third world economies. Is this a kind of ‘brainwashing’ mechanism?

      By the way, after only two years in governance, how do you equate Maada Bio’s tribalistic tendencies to that of Earnest Bai Koroma? Be honest with yourself, and cite some instances …

  4. I refuse, Mr. David Bangura to engage in any serious discussions with you, because your attack is completely out of touch with the realities of my comment and the situation at hand. Please, calm down and rearrange your arguments again. If you do that, you will be given the privilege to discuss this issue with me.

    By the way, I’m no stranger when it comes to the IMF Mr. David Bangura. Mr. David Bangura, somewhere on planet earth, sending me details of the IMF in Freetown, instead of sending me the IMF’s Office details in New York. God help Mr. David Bangura with his search for IMF details in Freetown.

  5. This amount is a debt which adds to the already accumulated debt that we will never pay. The approved debt is part of the compensation against austerity taking by the Bio Administration, which has caused immense hardship to the people of Sierra Leone. No good news. Disappointing stuff.

    These are my questions to the IMF – Can’t you stop providing such loans to countries like Sierra Leone, when you know very well, that the country and its people don’t benefit from them? Is it right to be giving loans to countries just to enable the unscrupulous politicians and government officials to get rich and the people’s life getting miserable by the minute? It will be a very good idea, if the IMF put a system in place to oversee such loans to make sure the poor masses/population and the country benefits. Think about that IMF. God bless Sierra Leone.

    • “It will be a very good idea, if the IMF put a system in place to oversee such loans to make sure the poor masses/population and the country benefits. Think about that IMF. God bless Sierra Leone.” Sahr Matturi

      Sahr Matturi, there is nothing wrong with being critical. But being critical ignorantly is a disease that has no cure. There is an IMF office in Freetown located on the 2nd FLoor of the Sam Bangura Building on Gloucester Street. It is headed by a country representative by the name of Dr. Monique Newiak. The telephone number is: +232-76- 559 – 329.

      The IMF office oversees all IMF transactions in Sierra Leone and ensures that IMF conditionalities accompanying IMF loans are fully carried out. The office closed its doors and left Sierra Leone in 2017 when your rogue APC government under supreme Kleptomaniak, Ernest Bai Koroma, started to blatantly violate IMF conditionalities that were tied to the loans that APC took. The office only resumed operations after APC was kicked out of power.

  6. Every now and then, we hear reports of millions of dollars being given to our government either in the form of loans or grants all with the intention of mitigating the economic predicament our citizens find themselves. Each occasion, the argument is, the authorities are putting the right measures in place, hence we should be expecting things to turn around down the road. The million dollar question is, when exactly will we begin to see any signs of alleviation?

    By all indications, all we have observed so far is things heading in the negative direction. There is absolutely no evidence of things getting positive or even being normalize. Even before this Corona crisis, all statistics points to things getting worse in the nation when it comes to economic activities. The only situation being improve is the government officials who are busy building mansions and assembling fleet of cars that they can barely use. You can label me a skeptic, however, the truth is, most of these monies will ended up being siphon by the authorities in charge, absolutely no difference will be made.

  7. I hope this large amount of money will be used for its intended purpose. The last government which was in power blatantly misappropriated monies meant for Ebola victims. All they could think of was how to get rich beyond their wildest dreams and hence squandered the precious money. This resulted in the deaths of thousands. I hope this government has learnt a lesson from the Ebola attack.

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