Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 September 2020:
Sierra Leone’s minister of trade and industry, Dr. Hinga Sandy, told reporters at a press briefing last week that his ministry has embarked on various institutional reforms for effective service delivery.
He said that the new structures will speak to the needs of the country as the ministry positions itself to harness opportunities across the globe in order to grow the country’s economy.
According to Sandy, one of the biggest projects his ministry is working on along with the ministry of finance is the implementation of a National Micro Credit Scheme that will provide funds for small businesses. This is Dr Sandy speaking about this on Sierra Network TV:
He said that his ministry in collaboration with the ministry of finance and the Bank of Sierra Leone, has been able to secure essential consumer commodities to meet the needs of the people of Sierra Leone, by providing Five Hundred Billion Leones credit facility to importers.
According to Sandy, as a result of this credit facility, and despite the country going through difficult time due to the corona pandemic, prices of essential consumer items remain stable.
Rice, he said is available in the country for up to the end of this year, and that more is expected to be imported for 2021.
Minister Sandy added that there are enough petroleum products in the country, and that the government has opened up the market by introducing a new player in the petroleum sector who will also be bringing in petroleum products.
He reported that Sierra Leone has joined two large market opportunities – the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme that allows companies within West Africa to trade with businesses in the sub-region, and the Continental Free Trade Agreement that has already been ratified.
Sandy said that his ministry has registered thirty-one companies that are producing goods in Sierra Leone for exporting to other countries.
Several industry promotion policies are currently under review, Sandy said, whilst noting that the ongoing reforms will attract more investments into Sierra Leone.
When are the loans going to be disbursed to those who apply for it. Thanks, regards.
This government Credit guarantee loan scheme for Small and medium size businesses, couldn’t have come at a time when they are most needed for struggling businesses around the country. If we hold Dr Sandy by his words in his press briefing, the government will provide the funds through trusted credit agencies to dish out loans to established businesses. And with the interest rates capped under 10% and a three month holiday repayment arrangement, and if implemented correctly by cutting out the middle man they will act like rocket booster to our struggling economy. But I am not holding my breath.
Taken altogether, the first few months of 2020 has hit our country’s economy badly. Covid19 pandemic, the lockdown, the state of emergency, tbe political trials, the tensions it created in the country, the mass youth unemployment, the killing of youths, and then you factor Corruption, it has not been our country’s finest hour. For this loan delivery to work, government needs to work with the credit agencies least they create something akin to the sub-prime mortgage crisis that engulfed the world’s banking system in 2008.
Before the credit crunch of 2008, anyone could walk into a bank and ask for a mortgage without necessarily showing how they are going to repay it back. So the stress test for would be borrowers has to be rigorous, and implemented correctly. It shouldn’t be my relative is an SLPP or APC supporter and works in the credit agency, come with me I will get you a loan. And if anything, this loan should be dished on the basis of you are capable of running a business – not who you know mentality in Sierra Leone that can open doors for you. May God bless Sierra Leone.