By Sahr Eric George
Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a well attended parliamentary session on Thursday, November 16, 2023, Members of Parliament (MPs) from both the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) called on the newly appointed Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), Ibrahim Stevens, to meet the December 31st deadline for completing the redenomination process initiated by his predecessors.
During the session, MPs advised Governor Stevens to focus on revitalizing the nation’s economy promptly, bringing positive change to the lives of citizens. Honourable Daniel Aaron Koroma, representing Tonkolili District, expressed optimism that Governor Stevens, having served at BSL for an extended period and worked under the former governor, would contribute to a turnaround in the economy and strengthen the Leone.
Hon. Koroma urged Governor Stevens to scrutinize the high interest rates imposed by commercial banks on businesspeople, emphasizing instances where loans are initially presented with a 20% payment requirement but end up collecting up to 50%. He also highlighted the excessive charges by mobile money operators compared to commercial banks, citing an example where banks charge Le 4 for the transfer of Le 1,000, while mobile money operators charge Le 31 for the same transaction.
Hon. Christopher Kekura Vandy, representing Bo District, stressed the need for collective unity across party lines to bring stability to the nation’s economy. He reminded Governor Stevens that much is expected of him due to his recent experience as acting governor and his service under the two previous governors.
Addressing Governor Stevens directly, Hon. Vandy stated, “…you have no excuse to give to this honorable house because you have all what it takes to succeed,” encouraging him to take necessary actions, including political strategies, to revive the economy.
Adding his voice to the debate, Hon. Abdul Kargbo, the leader of the opposition in parliament, characterized Governor Stevens’ position as a blessing and urged him to address the exchange rate issue promptly. Hon. Kargbo emphasized the challenges faced by the public due to the high exchange rate and expressed hope that the new Bank Governor would succeed for the betterment of the nation.
In conclusion, Hon. Kargbo emphasized the importance of the Bank Governor serving the people of Sierra Leone rather than just the government, highlighting the impact of global economic challenges on neighboring countries and urging prudent monetary policies for stability. SEG/17/11/2023