Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 March 2019:
Sierra Leone’s economy is in dire need of external financial support to unlock the massive private sector investments required by the Bio led SLPP government to create jobs and put money in people’s pockets.
President Bio has promised the creation of millions of jobs, but key economic sectors with growth potential such as fishery, tourism, agro-processing and farming are in desperate need of cash injection.
Yesterday, Tuesday 12th March 2019. the World Bank Group announced a new $325 million funding package for Sierra Leone, at a joint meeting held in Washington on Monday 11th March 2019, between president Julius Maada Bio and the World Bank Group’s Interim president – Kristalina Georgieva.
The meeting discussed the country’s progress in accessing the recently announced $172 million IMF Extended Credit Facility; the government’s fiscal consolidation efforts; plans for restructuring Sierra Leone’s debts and arrears clearance, which currently stands at $1.4 billion; and support for president Bio’s $1.5 billion Medium-term (2019–2023) National Development Plan.
Interim World Bank president Georgieva praised president Bio for his bold economic reforms. She said “president Bio’s agenda will guarantee his legacy and place in history.”
Speaking about president Bio’s performance in managing the economy, World Bank vice president for Africa Region – Hafez Ghanem said: “we are impressed with your performance in just 10 months in office. So we are ready to support your government.”
President Bio expressed appreciation to the World Bank for strengthening its support for his government’s newly launched National Development Plan.
He said that his government is focusing on human capital development; science, technology and innovation; and greater private sector participation to address the country’s vast infrastructure needs, and support high growth sectors that will create much needed jobs.
He spoke about his determination to fight corruption – a fight which he said, must be won if Sierra Leone is to develop.
At the end of the World Bank’s meeting with president Bio, it was agreed that the World Bank will step up its support for the country’s energy sector through additional financing for electricity generation, distribution and transmission; rural electrification and solar energy.
Both sides agreed to engage further in a roundtable discussion on energy in April 2019 at the World Bank/IMF Spring meetings.
The Bank has committed to support women and girls through its women empowerment programme; address high maternal mortality; provide incentives to keep girls in school and support reproductive health services.
It will also support private sector growth; increase access to internet; increase budgetary assistance and additional support for social safety nets for vulnerable groups, women, and youth, including people living with disabilities.
The Bank’s increased financial support for the Bio led government comes as the SLPP government marks its first year in office.
In 2017 the International Monetary Fund suspended its Extended Credit Facility agreement with the APC government of president Koroma – worth about $248 million, after serious economic mismanagement and corruption.