His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has met with the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and his review team, who are visiting as part of an ongoing process of the country’s 6th and 7th review programmes.
The Fund had approved the 6th and 7th reviews of Sierra Leone’s performance under the Extended Credit Facility, ECF, arrangement. After completing the two reviews, Sierra Leone would benefit from the final disbursement of the facility, and the Executive Board would also grant a waiver for the non-observance of the quantitative performance criterion on the domestic primary fiscal balance of the central government.
Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, told the President that Sierra Leone was hosting the delegation from the IMF to negotiate the country’s ECF, adding that that was why the Executive Director of the IMF, accompanied by his advisor, the IMF Mission Chief for Sierra Leone, and the new Resident Representative in Sierra Leone was meeting him.
“His Excellency, we taught it was important to take the opportunity to pay a courtesy call to you and try to give you a gist of the level of our conversation with the team and the country team on the nature of the ongoing staff-level discussions with the IMF and the prospect going forward,” he disclosed.
Executive Director of the IMF, Willie Nakunyada, thanked President Bio for creating time to meet with them and for his level of commitment and show of political will to the IMF mission, stressing that their review was coming at a critical moment when the global economy was facing many challenges, many shocks from the pandemic, and spillovers from the Russian-Ukraine war.
“This has affected many of our countries in terms of their import bills and their prices for food, fuel, and other sources of energy. But I am delighted that this discussion is proceeding to set a strong foundation for this review and also for subsequent IMF engagements. So, in particular, the difficult reforms that your government is taking at this time are commendable, especially the revenue measures to try and take care of fiscal discipline and generate adequate revenue flows, to ensure the fiscal position remains on a sustainable path,” the IMF boss expressed.
Mr. Nakunyada advised that the two teams engaged closely on some of the few remaining issues of the 6th and 7th review processes, pointing out that the review was very critical as it would help them to report to the IMF Board and make a case for Sierra Leone to get a trigger disbursement.
President Julius Maada Bio welcomed the Executive Director and team to Sierra Leone and thanked them for confirming that, “We are very much committed to the programme, and to let you know that it has been of great support to the progress we have made so far. The relationship we have with the IMF and others is important.
“When we took over governance, this country was out of programme, but we were able to undertake certain reforms and show commitment enough to convince you within seven months to get us back on track. That commitment remains, but of course, as we are all aware when we took over in 2018 none of us was expecting the present turmoil we are experiencing internationally.
“Starting off a journey in a turbulent international financial situation has been tough even for the best of the economies. However, for us in Sierra Leone, we have shown fiscal discipline with a lot of effort made in our revenue mobilisation. I want to assure you that we are still fully committed to the IMF programme, but the nature of what we are going through is what we have to capture in the review. Notwithstanding that, as a government and as a country, we are fully committed to the IMF and its programme,” the President assured.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Republic of Sierra Leone State House.