Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 May 2022:
No foreign company operating in Sierra Leone or local firm paying for goods and service coming from abroad can function without the supply of foreign currencies by the Bank of Sierra Leone to make payment transactions.
Last week, the government of Sierra Leone issued stark notice to mining companies, that it will no longer provide foreign exchange to mining companies and other large businesses to pay for importing of fuel, starting from next month.
The government’s Petroleum Regulatory Agency is accusing mining and other large companies of hoarding – “stockpiling diesel fuel”.
The government has provided no evidence of fuel stockpiling by these firms, and will drive away foreign investors whose operations largely depend on fuel consumption in a country where electricity supply is highly unreliable and intermittent.
Economic policy experts say that this policy will have catastrophic consequences on the economy in general and the mining companies in particular, who account for over 80% of the country’s export revenue.
But the government says that stockpiling and hoarding is driving rising fuel price increase, compounded by global supply shortage caused by the war in Ukraine.
“This situation is potentially getting serious as there are evidence that mining companies are stockpiling diesel fuel, constraining supply to the ordinary citizenry and small businesses,” the Petroleum Regulatory Agency’s statement reads.
The country’s Central Bank provides over $100 million a year in foreign exchange to pay for fuel import.