On Monday, 12th February 2024, a mission from the Internation Monitory Fund (IMF) pays a courtesy call to the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone and the Commissioner of the National Revenue Authority on the implementation of the agreed triggers between the government of Sierra Leone and the International Monitory Fund (IMF) on the 8th Review of the last Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and discussions for a succession programme.
The chief of Mission, Christian Saborowski, congratulated the government of Sierra Leone for completing the ECF arrangement since its signing despite the challenges surrounding its implementation.
The IMF Chief of Mission also stated that there are a couple of things that need to be clarified and discussed further, ranging from the outruns of the 2023 Fiscal and Monetary Policy, lessons learnt from the last program, analytical topics and the details of those topics, data sharing, the full implementation of tax laws, Public Financial Management (PFM) issues, publishing information on redenomination of the Leones, the exchange rate, inflation and all other challenges faced during the implementation process.
He added that discussions are imminent before starting a new program so that lessons learned can be shared to avoid further bottlenecks while implementing a new program.
The Minister of Finance, Sheku Fantamladi Bangura, thanked the representatives from the IMF Mission for engaging him and his colleagues’ managers of the economy.
He responded to the issues the Head of the IMF Mission raised, saying that the government has tried very hard to stay on track with the last ECF program arrangement.
He assured the team that data would be shared for ease of reference.
Minister Bangura Further noted that the twin shocks of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukrainian war adversely affected the implementation process; the servicing of internal and external debt, the electioneering period, and security threats were all bottlenecks and challenges encompassing the implementation process.
Mr Bangura furthered that despite all these constraints, the government has undertaken reforms, maintained the wage bill, cut down huge expenditures, and is still working to close the gap and continue to improve on the agreed target with the IMF.
The Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Ibrahim Stevens, explained that the Bank of Sierra Leone has been instrumental in pushing the government’s fiscal and monetary policies.
He said confidence had been restored in the market despite their challenges.
Dr. Stevens assured the mission that there is enough note in the market, and they are ready to learn challenges from the past ECF Program to avoid future occurrences.
He furthered that measures have been put in place between the central bank and the commercial banks, which encourage the commercial banks to borrow forex from the central banks; hence, you go through the due processes laid down by the central bank.
The Financial Secretary Matthew Dingie, Deputy Finance Ministers 1 and 2, the Chief Economist, the Commissioner General of NRA, the Accountant General Head and the Principal Deputy Financial Secretary contributed meaningfully to the discussions.