Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 April 2019:
Last Friday 5th April 2019, the government of Sierra Leone received almost $40 million (US$ 39,670,774) in grant-aid as direct budget support from the World Bank, under the Bank’s Productivity and Transparency Support Grant Programme.
This is equivalent to Le 341.6 billion. This much needed funds have been credited into the government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund Account held at the Bank of Sierra Leone.
It will be used to help support the government in meeting critical pro-poor expenditures in education, health and other statutory payments as the economy struggles under the weight of low investment and low export revenue.
But the World Bank funding was made possible as a result of the Bio led government’s accomplishments in fiscal consolidation and efforts to stabilise the economy.
The government is winning the fight against corruption, though corruption is fighting back. Billions of Leones are being recovered from corrupt public officials to help pay for much needed public services.
The country’s tax collection agency – the National Revenue Authority with its new management, is working on overdrive, efficiently collecting previously uncollected taxes. This too is helping the government meet its budget obligations.
The World Bank’s $40 million grant will help the government’s implementation of policy reforms in agriculture, fisheries, energy, education, and as well as strengthen the fight against corruption, after ten years of misrule by the previous Koroma (Photo) led APC government.
The initial budget support agreed by the World Bank was in the form of a $20 million loan.
But this was increased to $40 million and converted into a grant instead, as confidence in the performance of president Bio’s government grows.
The Executive Board of the World Bank approved this Support Programme on the 19th March 2019 followed by the signing of the financing agreement between the country’s Minister of Finance and the Bank’s Country Manager on the 21st March, 2019.
Whilst this $40 million grant-aid support will be welcomed by the people of Sierra Leone, there is growing call for more to be done by respective ministers to get the tourism, fisheries, agro-processing, and other key sectors of the economy get off the ground to create much needed job.
There is growing call also for president Bio to reshuffle his cabinet in order to inject fresh energy into the delivery of the big task at hand – getting the economy working again.
Inflation is running high at almost 18%. The value of the Leone which has fallen by over 15% in the last twelve months, needs a big push by boosting exports and curbing illegal currency racketeering.