Sierra Leone: At the conclusion of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Board discussion, Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair said that Sierra Leone is grappling with serious and persistent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the immediate health risks appear contained, 2021 will be another challenging year. The economic and social impact is likely to be protracted, exacerbating longstanding development challenges and the strained financing situation.”
His statement came after the Board approved a US$50 million disbursement for Sierra Leone. He went on to note that the authorities have responded promptly to the crisis. In 2020, they scaled up health and other priority spending, consistent with their Quick Action Economic Recovery Programme.
The Bank of Sierra Leone’s special credit facility he added helped ensure that food supplies were not disrupted. The 2021 budget continues to prioritize COVID-19 and recovery-related spending within a tight budget envelope.
With the emergency financing from the IMF under the Rapid Credit Facility, the Acting Chair said it will help meet urgent external and fiscal financing needs in 2021, and ensure that the authorities can maintain their response and recovery efforts.
“In line with their National Development Plan priorities, they continue to strengthen governance, including transparently reporting on their COVID-19 response, and publishing details of large emergency‑related procurement contracts.”
He concluded by saying as the look ahead, the authorities remain committed to maintaining macroeconomic and fiscal stability, in line with their medium-term reform program supported by the Extended Credit Facility.
“They are taking steps to address vulnerabilities to debt sustainability, with IMF technical assistance. Nevertheless, Sierra Leone’s large development needs and tight financing situation will require concessional support, ideally grants, from the international community in the coming years.” ZIJ/22/03/2021
By [email protected]