World Bank approves $100 million to support Sierra Leone’s economic resilience

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 June 2020:

The World Bank has today announced that its Group Board of Executive Directors has approved a $100 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), to support the government of Sierra Leone in promoting sustainable and inclusive growth, and building economic resilience.

This Development Policy Financing (DPF), the World Bank says, supports ongoing reforms to enhance macroeconomic stability, increase productivity in agriculture and fisheries, promote transparency in public procurement, and build an effective asset disclosure system to fight corruption and improve public sector accountability.

Gayle Martin, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone (Photo), said: “This financing will help address fiscal challenges and improve overall governance to build resilience and enhance the delivery of services to the people amidst this global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sierra Leone’s opportunities to eradicate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity rest on sustained macroeconomic stability, robust growth and a solid enabling environment for the exploitation of its abundant natural resources.”

Today’s announcement says that the program focuses on two primary objectives: creating the conditions for increased productivity in selected economic sectors; and improving transparency in selected government decision making processes.

“The World Bank continues to support the Government’s commitment to tackle difficult and needed reforms to promote inclusive growth,” said Youssouf Kiendrebeogo, World Bank Senior Economist and Task Team Leader.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Sierra Leone’s economy grew by 5.1 percent in 2019, driven mainly by robust activities in agriculture and services. With the spread of the virus in Sierra Leone and the effects of the global pandemic, the economy is expected to contract by between 2.3 and 3.1 percent in 2020, and growth could be 1.4 to 2.0 percentage points lower than forecast for the medium term, the World Bank says .

Today’s announcement also mentions that the downside risks to this outlook are also heightened, depending on the duration of the global pandemic and the implications for the opening of borders and markets for Sierra Leone exports as well as essential imports, including food.

An extended crisis could lead to major disruptions in the service sector (trade, tourism and transportation in particular) with substantial job losses and increased poverty. A key challenge for the Government is to diversify the economy to raise real per capita growth above the population growth of 2.1 percent in order to ensure that the gains in reducing poverty and inequality are sustained, the World Bank warns.

According to the announcement, this is the last operation in a programmatic series of three operations to support the implementation of the government’s priorities articulated in its Medium-Term National Development Plan (2019 – 2023).

In April the government published its COVID-19 strategic economic response budget requirement. It said it will cost over $300 million to implement.

Today’s announcement by the World Bank brings total financing of the government’s budget requirement close to over $250 million received so far, with the approval of a $143 million loan by the IMF two weeks ago, in addition to a $11.2 million grant received from the European Union.

With such access to massive funds, many in Sierra Leone believe that the Bio-led government has no reason now to keep blaming the former government for the country’s lack of economic progress.

President Bio has been in office for over two years, and since then, his government has received hundreds of millions of dollars in either international grant funding or increased public debt, amid rising unemployment and poverty.

Where has all that money gone?

The majority of people in Sierra Leone are yet to see any meaningful change in their standards of living, despite promises by the government. Blaming COVID-19 is not a politically wise option for the government.

As the World Bank warns the government today, diversifying the economy is the only option for the government if it is to promote economic growth, employment and private sector led wealth creation.

Can the Bio-led government succeed where the former Koroma led APC government failed woefully?

14 Comments

  1. Abraham Amadu Jalloh, do I understand you as stating that Liberia’s George Weah is in the class of educated African leaders like Alhassan Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire and the late Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe? I sincerely hope that is not the postulation you mean to convey here. Anyone who has not been under the rock will tell you with 100% certainty, that the present Liberian leader is not only the least educated and articulate leader ever in Africa, but also the worst (and most corrupt) president Liberia has ever had in its 177-year history as a state.

    Try asking any politically conscious Liberian about this, and you wll in no time know that the ex-footballer, now President, owes his leadership position to the large ignorant youth voters in Liberia and selfish and tunnel-visioned opposition elements in the country. Indeed, in terms of leadership capabilities and requisite knowledge and experience level, the difference between Weah and African leaders like Ouattara and Mugabe is like night and day.

    • According to his profile he graduated with a masters degree in business management in Devry University florida. I think to many Liberians he has been a massive disappointment. Its one thing to be a good footballer but quite a difference wben it comes to politics. So far I don’t think he is worse than Saneul K Doe, though his political miscalculation and tribal politices he pursue during his tenure created the conditions to plunge Liberia to civil war and to some extent Sierra-leone as well.

      That is why us Sierra Leoneans are interested in peace and stability for our sister country. The best educated African leader was Robert Mugabe and the worst was Idi Amin Dadda of Uganda. No one can beat those two records. Not even if you try.

  2. “What makes him one of the most educated leaders in Africa? We know Sylvia Blyden’s O’levels results up to university level. Can we know his please?” Sallu Onesimus Williams

    Mr. Williams,

    President Julius Maada Bio took his GCE/School Certificate ‘O’ levels in the 1980s at the prestigious Government Secondary School, Bo, also known as Bo School. He passed with flying colors. He was admitted to the Sixth form of that school. He also became the senior prefect of Bo school on the basis of academic and disciplinary records. Bio went on to get one of the best results in the GCE ‘A’ level exams at Bo School.

    The future president gained admission to Fourah Bay College with a full scholarship. However, he opted to join the armed forces as a cadet officer. In the army, he rose through the ranks to become Brigadier-General. And after he handed over power to president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, Bio proceeded to the United States and entered the prestigious American University in Washington DC. He bagged his Bachelors and Masters degrees in International Relations. He was invited to pursue a Ph.D on a full scholarship but opted to return home.

    After Bio lost the 2012 elections to kleptocrat Ernest Koroma, he left for the United Kingdom to pursue a Ph.D in Peace Studies. At the time he contested for the presidency in 2018, he was a Ph.D candidate at Bradford University in the United Kingdom. Yes, Bio is one of the most educated leaders in Africa. And he is certainly better educated than Sylvia Blyden.

  3. Please let us put the money to good use. Our people in Sierra Leone are struggling. No light, no clean water, no good road, no job for the people. I wonder how people are living.

  4. This is very timely for the New Direction government and the people of Sierra Leone, who was trying their best to improve the austerity economy that they inherited, and from nowhere comes to Coronavirus. Unfortunately the New Direction government was not only facing economic problems, but massive corruption perception problems in transforming the minds of the average citizens, that corruption should not be the normal system of running the country. With regards to taxation, it was normal to bribe tax collectors, rather than paying to the single treasury system electronically that is currently established.

    Flooding our economy with stolen monies from the government, rather than blocking the leakages which created the narrative of “the gron dry” is a better method to improve our credibility. There were serious challenges with the IMF, because of implementing the subsidy petroleum program, which was delayed by the APC government before the election, but was eventually implemented by the new direction government, which was responsible for the increase in community prices and the dollar. Thanks to the Almighty, our credit ratings have been established and with sustainable fiscal policies, our country will withstand this deadly coronavirus economic crisis.

  5. “Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Sierra Leone’s economy grew by 5.1 percent in 2019, driven mainly by robust activities in agriculture and services. With the spread of the virus in Sierra Leone and the effects of the global pandemic, the economy is expected to contract by between 2.3 and 3.1 percent in 2020, and growth could be 1.4 and 2.0 percentage points lower than forecast for the Medium Term, the World Bank says.”

    This is a wild statement in economic terms. What was the average growth forecast in the Medium Term Development Plan (2019-2023)? In particular, what was the Gross Domestic Product (GDPs) for the years 2018 and 2019 respectively? Without these figures it would be impossible to calculate the REAL GROWTH of the country’s economy in the year 2019 – prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Was Sierra Leone’s economy really growing in that tense and unproductive period? In other words, did the revenue gain in “robust activities in agriculture and services” offset the loss in revenue from the closure of iron ore mining and other liquidated enterprises?

    Furthermore, if the economy grew by 5.1 percentage points in 2019 – before the coronavirus crisis – why was ‘the gron dry’? It is not a hidden fact that since the Bio-led administration took over 2-years ago, all macroeconomic fundamentals (exchange rates, inflation, interest rates, employment and growth) are all indicating regressive values. And, “the majority of people in Sierra Leone are yet to see meaningful change in their standards of living, despite the promises of the government”. Why was the 5.1 percent growth in 2019 did not filter through the livelihoods of the people? Very conflicting – it doesn’t seem to add up!

  6. The government indeed has no reason to keep blaming the past administration for problems it asserted they can solve if elected into office.

    • People must remember that the World Bank funding is for addressing specific areas of the economy, that have no connection with the fight against financial corruption and the massive looting of the country by the Koroma government.
      This fight MUST go on. Those who stole from our people must be held accountable, the funds recovered from them and directed at poverty alleviation programs. They MUST face justice, preferably in jail plus forfeiture of the ill-gotten wealth.

  7. “ Today’s announcement by the World Bank brings total financing of the government’s budget requirement close to over $250 million received so far, with the approval of a $143 million loan by the IMF two weeks ago, in addition to a $11.2 million grant received from the European Union.”

    Indeed donor funds continue to pile in as was the case during the Ebola. We will wait to see how these funds, given on behalf of the Sierra Leone people be utilized by the current regime. The people of Sierra Leone have suffered for far too long, they are tired of the blame game and finger pointing. The ordinary citizens are desperately yearning for an improvement in their current economic predicament.

    Government officials and their family members should not be the only ones living the good life, the suffering masses deserve a portion of the national cake as well. The quarter of a billion dollars received by the government thus far can indeed make a huge economic difference if utilized for its intended purpose.

  8. The problem with every leader in Sierra Leone is that they spend more than they can earn. Too many ministers, too many other staffs, too many approved projects and organisations that bring no income, etc. How can our economy grow when the government does not focus on what brings money to us but only to those which takes money away from us.

    President Bio, whom I have loved more than every other leader of Sierra Leone, should have focused more on food and agriculture than any other. O God save Sierra Leone by guiding prezo Bio to the right path – a path that will make Sierra Leone rejoice.

  9. Mind you this is not free money and I would want to suggest. Simply, it is a loan to be paid with good amount of interest. So there is nothing my APC did yesterday that the paopas are not doing today. So stop the khalow khalow cha cha and tell us in a definite term how you are spraying our money.

  10. President Dr Maada Bio and his government if there is a moment for putting our country to sustainable development footing, this is it. The World Bank kept referring to investment in micro economic finance and transparency. By that they meant to try and put an end to the cancer of corruption that has so far held us back. When the civil war ended, we had similar good will gestures to improve the quality of life of every Sierra Leoneans.

    Millions of dollars were given to our governments to help our country recovery process from a devastating war. Apart from from few roads here and there and building accommodation for war victims, there were little else left to show for it. The president and his government, which I think is filled with the most educated people on the continent, should seize this opportunity and make a difference to the ordinary man and woman. People were already suffering and that is now even exacerbated with COVID19. There have been many false starts. We are tired of excuses.

    If the word” EXCUSES” was a human being, he would have sued successive Sierra Leonean governments for libel and the tarnishes of his name and image in the world. He seems to take all the blame for lack of sound economic policies that will help develop our country. Since our country’s independence, we have listened to the same old stories. But the problem with us Sierra Leoneans, we like to be lied to. We seem as a nation suffer from collective amnesia. History taught us nothing. We seem to bury our heads in the sand and deny everything that is happening around us.

    It takes only one individual with a clear vision and not shackled by dogmas to change a country’s fortune like Jerry Rawlings and Thomas Sankara. I hope one of the most educated leaders in Africa today, Dr Julius Maada Bio can join their ranks. Sierra Leoneans, fasten your seat belts, it is over to you Mr President.

    • What makes him one of the most educated leaders in Africa? We know Sylvia Blyden’s O’levels results up to university level. Can we know his please?

    • When I say one of the most educated leaders in the African continent. I meant leaders of countries in the continent. president Bio is one of few African leaders, that know how to string sentences and you don’t have to reach for the subtitle button in your remote control when he speaks. If in doubt listen to other African leaders being interviewed on television. Also you should note the word one of. It didn’t say he is the only leader with a Masters or doctorate degree or any other degree for that matter. There are others of course like, before his death Robert Mugabe, John Pombe Maghull of Tanzania, Alessane Ouattara, Ivory Coast and George Weah of Liberia and many more.

      Their degrees are bestowed on them through hard work and grit. The trouble with us Sierra leoneans, we are quick to put down our fellow Sierra Leoneans. And we worship anything that is foreign. From my experience I have interacted with other African people from different countries and they always seem to support each other. But for Sierra Leoneans, we like to pull each other down. Just look at the state of our country, it says it all. Apart from corruption, that is one of the diseases we need to get rid off, to see progress in our country.

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