A mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Sukhwinder Singh Who is the chief of mission is in Sierra Leone to conduct article IV Mission and 5th Review Mission of the Extended Credit Facility which was approved in November 2018.
The Article 4th consultation will provide a health check of the Sierra Leone economy looking at policies and developments in the economic and financial landscape of the country.
During the consultation, the IMF team will hold discussions with officials of the government and central bank, the private sector, development partners and civil society organizations.
Speaking in a courtesy meeting with the Minister of Finance, on Thursday 31st March 2022, the Chief of Mission Sukhwinder Singh expressed his delight to be in Sierra Leone for the first time since he took over his current position as chief of Mission, stating that there is no substitute to face to face meetings.
He further stated that one big achievement of the Government last year was to keep the ECF programme on track. He said that they are here to listen to the concerns of the Government, present their positions on issues and dialogue with the Government on the way forward. “We are not here to dictate or police the Government but rather to dialogue as partners” he added.
Sukhwinder Singh also stated that Sierra Leone’s economy has been suffering from several shocks, from the Ebola, Landslide, Covid-19 and now the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Stating that in time of crisis and shocks, the poorest of the poor countries suffers a lot. Thereby, advise Government to prioritise expenditure and stabilise debt to a sustainable level.
The Chief of Mission spoke about other areas of concern like investing in agriculture, social protection exchange rate, domestic debt and arrears clearance framework, borrowing plans, inflation, audit and fiscal transparency.
Minister of Finance Dennis K. Vandi welcomes the mission, expressing his delight to have them in town rather than virtually as it has been for the past years due to Covid-19. He assured them of the cooperation of the Government throughout the review period.
He highlighted challenging areas in the economy including the recent fuel crisis.
Deputy Minister of Finance 1 Sheku F. Bangura raised the issue of fuel crisis mainly due to forex pressure and the Ukraine war and also advocate for a policy on forex retention to reduce the pressure for forex.
Speaking on the issues on the payroll and the 2021 budget, Financial Secretary Sahr Jusu, explained that since 2020 Government has incorporated the salaries of workers in Tertiary Educational Institutions with an increased salary, subsidy in the Free Quality Education Programme, provision of teaching and learning materials, payment of examination fees, 7 districts electrification project, water projects.
In the area of Audit and the Independence of Audit Service Sierra Leone, Sahr L. Jusu emphasised the role of audit in fiscal transparency and also reiterate government commitment to ensure that Audit Service enjoys not only financial and operational independence but also the implementation of audit recommendations.