The Chairman of the Technical Committee of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), Mr. Sahr Lahai Jusu who is also the Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance in Sierra Leone has called on member states of WAMZ to sustain the implementation of sound economic policies, including the recommendations preferred by West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) on various aspect of economic management in order to safeguard macroeconomic stability and strengthen the resilience of the economies to shocks.
He made this clarion call on Monday 7th September 2020, during a virtual Webinar of the Mid-year 2020 47th Meetings of the Technical Committee of the Members States of the West Africa Monetary Zone on 7th and 8th September 2020.
“The 2019 WAMZ Convergence report projected that only Sierra Leone is likely to meet all the four convergence criteria by 2023. While this may sound good; in the spirit of regional integration and the West African brotherhood, we would like to take everyone along; leaving no one behind on the road to a monetary union in West Africa,” he said.
Sahr Lahai Jusu continued that after strong growth in 2018, global economic activity slowed down in 2019, reflecting a confluence of factors adversely affecting major economies.
According to him, despite the adverse external developments, macroeconomic performance in the West African Monetary Zone was favorable, noting that the Zone grew by 2.8 percent in 2019, 0.2 percent higher than the growth rate registered in 2018.
He said the improved growth was underpinned by the sustained implementation of prudent macroeconomic policies as well as; increased agricultural output and the recovery in global commodity prices during 2019.
“I am gratified to note that four WAMZ Member States recorded robust real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates of 5.0 percent or higher, one registered slightly above 2.3 percent growth while one experienced a 1.4 percent contraction in economic activity,” he added.
During the meeting, Sierra Leone’s dynamic financial secretary Sahr Lahai Jusu was given another mandate to continue serving as chairman of the technical committee.
The technical committee chair continued that the performance on macroeconomic convergence criteria improved in 2019 with one country (Guinea) meeting all the primary convergence criteria, three (The Gambia, Ghana, and Sierra Leone) met three criteria each and one (Nigeria) met two criteria while another country (Liberia) met only one criterion.
Updating his counterparts on the performance of Sierra Leone’s economy, Sahr L. Jusu stated that, the economy recovered in 2019 from the subdued growth in 2017 and 2018. “Growth recovered to 5.4 percent in 2019 from 3.5 percent in 2018 and was set to average 4.5 percent over the medium term,” he said.
He said this recovery was driven by increased agricultural output, resumption of iron ore mining at the Marampa Mines, an increase in the output of other minerals, and growth of the services sector.
According to Mr. Jusu, fiscal consolidation, supported by spending rationalisation and domestic revenue mobilization efforts, succeeded in narrowing the overall deficit, including grants from 8.8 percent of GDP in 2017 to 5.6 percent in 2018 and further down to 2.8 percent of GDP in 2019.
These technical committee meetings will be followed by the 41st Committee of Governors of Central Banks of WAMZ they will discuss the technical committee report on the 10th September 2020 and on the 11th September 2020 the Convergence Council of Ministers of Finance and Governors of Central Banks.