Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah on Wednesday, 17th September 2014 signed a grant agreement with the African Development Bank (ADB) at a brief ceremony held in the Minister’s office in Freetown.
The ADB Country Representative with whom Minister Marah signed the grant documents said the USD 1, 000, 000 (one million US Dollars) is Sierra Leone’s own share of a USD 60, 000, 000 (sixty million US Dollar) the bank had disbursed to its regional office in Guinea for use to mitigate the Ebola outrage in the affected Mano River Union Basin countries and that of Nigeria.
The USD1, 000, 000 cheque was directly presented to a representative f the World Health Organisation (WHO), Steve Laudry, who in his statement accepting the cheque, said the money would be used for two intervention areas, namely, to service international assistance teams coming to support the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease in the country and to provide additional support to District Health Medical Teams to step up contact tracing and increase the number of burial teams for instance.
Dr. Yero Baldeh highlighted a number of interventions the ADB has made in mitigating the socio-economic impact on Ebola affected countries. He noted that at the beginning of the outbreak of the virus, the ADB provided USD 30, 000, 000 (thirty million US Dollars) to the affected countries to help them prepare against the virus. He said three months down the line, the bank realized that, that amount would not be enough and therefore decided in June, July, to provide an additional USD 60, 000, 000 (sixty million US Dollars) to the WHO for mitigation purposes in the affected countries.
Of this amount, the ADB Sierra Leone Country Director explained that USD 4, 000, 000 (four million US Dollars) was subtracted for WHO direct use in four countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria with the World Health Organisation USD 1, 000, 000 for each of the four countries.
Dr. Baldeh also said that an additional USD 56, 000, 000 (fifty six million US Dollars)was disbursed to WHO by the bank of which the first tranche of USD 23, 000, 000 (twenty three million US Dollars) has already been disbursed to the WHO for its operations in the Ebola affected countries. He said of this amount also, USD 4, 200, 000 (four million two hundred thousand US Dollars) was allocated specifically to WHO Country Office in Sierra Leone to enhance its operations in the country, of which USD 2, 500, 000 (two million five hundred thousand US Dollars) is deposited in the accounts of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for urgent use to procure Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs), ambulances, drugs etc.
Responding to Dr. Baldeh’s presentation, Dr. Marah expressed sincere gratitude to the ADB for their “timely intervention” in the Ebola crisis, which he noted, demonstrates the commitment of the bank to the development of African countries.
He noted the purposes for which the various funds in the name of Sierra Leone are to be utilized and called on the bank for additional support to contain and eradicate the Ebola Virus Disease from the country.
Meanwhile, the ADB Country Director has intimated that the bank is contemplating providing a special budgetary support fund of USD 150, 000, 000 (one hundred and fifty million US Dollars) to all Ebola affected countries including La Cote d’Ivoire, of which an estimated USD 30, 000, 000 (thirty million US Dollars) will go to Sierra Leone’s budget support “to cushion the effects of the Ebola outbreak on the country’s budget,” Dr. Baldeh stated.
Dr. Marah welcomed the initiative and commended the President of the ADB, Daniel Kaberuka for giving consideration to the aspect of the aftermath of Ebola on the economy of the country, which he said could have serious negative impacts on women and children.
By Sayoh Kamara
Monday September 22, 2014