Marrakech, MOROCCO – As Sierra Leone’s three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approaches its end after the eighth review, the Minister of Finance, Sheku A.F Bangura, has announced the government’s intention to maintain its engagement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Minister Bangura shared his insights during the IMF/World Bank Group 2023 Annual Meetings in Marrakech. He explained that the government’s current engagement under the ECF, approved on June 5, 2017, for approximately US$224.2 million (78 percent of Sierra Leone’s quota), is coming to a close, with the last review in progress. The Minister anticipates a disbursement of about $20 million from the Fund upon the completion of this review.
Speaking about future plans, Minister Bangura emphasized, “Be ready for a continuity of our arrangement next year.” The government is keen to ensure the flow of resources before the year’s end, aiming to mobilize essential funds to support ongoing projects.
The government’s engagement extends beyond the IMF, as Minister Bangura mentioned the conclusion of their current development policy budget support with the World Bank. They anticipate a disbursement of approximately $65 million upon closure.
Furthermore, the Sierra Leone delegation is actively participating in discussions that address global issues concerning Africa and other developing countries. These engagements revolve around debt management, development financing, and the desired reforms from institutions like the Bretton Woods institutions to promote support for developing countries, especially in Africa.
Regarding the pressing issue of debt relief with creditors, Minister Bangura highlighted that this concern extends beyond Sierra Leone, as it is a shared challenge faced by several countries. “We are carrying our voice as developing and African countries to tell them that the current environment, coupled with multiple shocks, has exposed most of our countries to significant risks of debt,” he emphasized. In light of these circumstances, he emphasized the need for support from developing partners and suggested debt relief as a viable solution, particularly when a country’s economy is not experiencing robust growth.
Minister Bangura also revealed Sierra Leone’s pursuit of long-term training for a Public Financial Management Specialist, a request met with funding constraints from the Board. Nevertheless, the Minister discussed this need with the Fiscal Affairs Department and identified areas where support is required. This includes enhancing the capacity of the revenue authority and the ministry to ensure effective budgeting and wage strategies, ultimately promoting efficient financial management.
In conclusion, Minister Bangura’s statements reflect Sierra Leone’s commitment to a sustained partnership with the IMF, the quest for financial support, and the pursuit of responsible debt management practices in the face of economic challenges and shocks. ZIJ/12/10/2023