World Bank approves $40 Million to support policy reforms and inclusive growth in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 March 2019:

The World Bank today approved a $40 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to support key policy reforms to promote sustainable and inclusive growth and build economic resilience in Sierra Leone.

According to a statement published today by the Bank, the Second Productivity and Transparency Support Grant (PTSG-II) supports ongoing reforms to enhance macroeconomic stability, increase productivity in agriculture and fisheries while promoting transparency and accountability in selected government decision making processes.

Beyond leveraging increased productivity in the real sector, the program also supports the strengthening of economic and political governance, focused on improving government’s treasury management, procurement, promoting transparency in mining sector contracts, and building an effective asset disclosure system to fight corruption and promote public sector accountability, says the World Bank.

“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.

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

The statement says that, the economy grew by 7.8 percent on average during 2003-2014 but contracted by 21 percent in 2015 following the Ebola outbreak and a decline in the price of iron ore, the main export product. Although the country was declared Ebola free in March 2016, the economic recovery has been volatile.

Growth rebounded to 6.4 percent in 2016 only to decelerate to 3.8 percent in 2017 and remaining roughly stagnant at 3.7 percent in 2018.

Adding to the challenge of recovery, a large landslide hit Freetown in August 2017, further disrupting economic activity and slowing the pace of the recovery in 2017.

According to the Bank, the PTSG-II, the second in a programmatic series of three operations to support the implementation of the Government’s priorities articulated in the National Development Plan, covers five policy areas:  agriculture (including fisheries and land), energy and extractives, education, public financial management (Treasure Single Account and e-procurement), and asset disclosure.

The program its says, focuses on a limited number of transformational structural reforms necessary for boosting productivity, diversifying the economy and unlocking inclusive growth. Transparency and accountability issues are mainstreamed into the framework for the main productive sectors as well as in education.

“Government’s recent commitments and demonstrated actions to tackle difficult but necessary reforms are positive developments and the World Bank looks forward to continuing its support to the reform process going forward,” said Kemoh Mansaray, World Bank Senior Economist and Task Team Leader.

The proposed reforms are expected to have a significant positive social and poverty reduction impact. For instance, in the energy sector, the reduction in electricity losses is expected to improve the financial situation of EDSA and increase the utility’s capacity to supply electricity to households and businesses.

A higher electricity supply is in turn expected to better support economic activities and investment in manufacturing and services in Sierra Leone, which could lead to more job creation thus reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity, the World Bank announced today.

2 Comments

  1. It is like a spontaneous response by the World Bank for the necessity to establish concrete deterrents in the economic and social fabric of Sierra Leone in an attempt to foster sustainable development in a country where corruption is attributed as a means to day-to-day subsistence.

    This state of affairs is magnified in governance where corruption in the delivery of public procurement, the reimbursement of bloated expenses, the allocation of inflated allowances, and other unregulated government expenditures account for leakages that are a significant waste in the Gross National Product (GNP), thereby inhibiting subsequent growth and development in the country.

    Government hypocrisy and rhetoric will never curtail the scourge of graft in the country. The only way forward is the incorporation of e-CONTROL technology that will constantly monitor the frivolous activities of government officials in their utilization of public funds. And in an effort to keep to accontabiliy and transparency requirements, these monitoring devices should be made accessible to the public so that they can evaluate, every now and then, how their hard-earned taxes have been effectively used by the government.

    In a country where the minimum wage is currently set at Le500,000 per month (about US$75 per month) the implementation of an expenses App (e-expenses) will give an opportunity to tax payers to be able to compare their monthly wages to what a government minister claims for a meal whilst travelling abroad. Perhaps these checks and balances might discourage the care-free misappropriation of much needed resources.

    Without any doubt, it would be audacious to compare the claim for expenses of the presidential travelling entourage of the present government to that of the minimum wage in the country.

    Thanks to Gayle Martin – World Bank Manager for Sierra Leone – who has refrained from turning a blind eye from the recurring leakages in the macroeconomic structure of the country, and boldly channelled the approved US$40 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to include “public financial management (treasury single account and e-procurement), and asset disclosure”. Present and successive governments are now left with no hypocritical pretexts, but to implement systematic devices that will plug the wasteful and corrupt practices in the delivery of goods and services within the country.

    Hopefully, this could be the start of a ‘Solution then Problem’ orientated society rather than a rhetorically ‘Problem then Solution’ ill-informed and lousy society.

  2. Indeed and I quote what Gayle Martin said – “This financing will help address fiscal challenges and improve overall governance to build resilience and enhance the delivery of services to the people,”. Smart move by Gayle Martin. I applaud you for your initiative. God Bless You.

    The IMF has finally started to do what is good for the development of our country. Delivery of services for the people of Sierra Leone through GRANTS. Did the WORLD BANK consult the UK on why they provide more GRANTS than FOREIGN LOAN (AID) to Sierra Leone? The UK knows Sierra Leone than any other country in the world. Whether you like it or not. It is a fact.

    The UK does not give our government BLANK CHEQUES as other counties do. They provide us with GRANTS. They know our behaviour when it comes to foreign loan (the money just gets in the pocket of corrupt officials and business people). But with GRANTS, no way. The country and the people benefit.

    Sierra Leone needs LESS LOAN, MORE GRANTS and MORE TRADE. PERIOD. Although grants are not much compared to foreign debts or aid, they help the country and the people. These grants are given for known projects that have been already worked on. They are just needs based. Grants are just vital to our national development.

    Also, if we receive less FOREIGN AID, we will be obliged to manage our national receipts (income received from taxation and our mineral resources) properly. This will help us reduce our foreign debt which has run into BILLIONS of DOLLARS since independence. I say it again, our children will never forgive us for accumulating such huge amounts for them to pay. RIGHT?

    The grant just approved by the WORLD BANK covers the main areas Sierra Leone needs to restructure; mainly, agriculture (including fisheries and land), energy and extractives, education, public financial management (Treasure Single Account and e-procurement), and asset disclosure.

    However, I was disappointed that HEALTH was not included. But on the whole, the fact that the WORLD BANK has started shifting it policies in giving GRANTS to Sierra Leone instead of FOREIGN LOANS is a step in the right direction. That was what we have been asking them all along to do.

    The truth about these GRANTS even how small they might be, is that they are FREE and they accomplish what they are given for. Is that not COOL and COZY? It is. Talking to myself. YEH….EH.

    Congratulations to the WORLD BANK and I hope that the World Bank will continue to give Sierra Leone many GRANTS in the future and also facilitate TRADE to Sierra Leone in order to boost our failing economy.

    MORE GRANTS and TRADE. BUT LESS FOREIGN LOAN (AID). PERIOD! GOD BLESS THE WORLD BANK TO PROVIDE MORE GRANTS AND TRADE FOR SIERRA LEONE. AMEN AND AMEN.

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