The Ministry of Finance has just wrapped up its participation at the 2023 Mid-Year Statutory Meetings of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) in Accra, Ghana.
The meetings from the 5th to 15th September 2023 reviewed recent macroeconomic developments and convergence reports across Member States.
The delegation from the Ministry of Finance included the Deputy Minister of Finance 1, Madam Jeneba Bangura, Chief Economist, Alimamy Bangura and Acting Director of the Research and Delivery Division, Alhaji Abu Komeh.
Speaking at the 50th meeting of the Convergence Council of Ministers and Governors of Central Banks of Member States of the WAMZ on Friday, 15th September, Deputy Minister of Finance 1, Madam Jeneba Bangura, acknowledged the macroeconomic challenges faced by the country and noted that Sierra Leone was on the right path before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic but that the multiple shocks have overturned the gains recorded before then.
She highlighted that the Government of Sierra Leone is committed to strengthening agriculture, promoting the employment of youths, investing in human capital and infrastructure, boosting the private sector, and digitalising tax administration.
According to Deputy Minister 1, these efforts, alongside others, would help to bring back the country’s performance to the desired levels.
The Vice President of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, emphasised that West African states must ensure macroeconomic stability to realise the long-standing dream of achieving a single currency for the region.
The Minister of Finance of Ghana, Kenneth Ofori-Atta, was selected as the Chair of the Convergence Council of Ministers and Governors of Central Banks.
The Chief Economist, Alimamy Bangura and Alhaji Abu Komeh, Acting Director of the Research and Delivery Division (RDD), attended several meetings, including the 48th Technical Committee Meeting of WAIFEM and the 43rd Ordinary Meeting of the Joint Technical Committee of WAMA from 7th to 9th September.
Highlights of the Macroeconomic Convergence Report for 2022 indicated that growth in the ECOWAS region declined from 4.4 percent in 2021 to 4.0 percent in 2022.
This was triggered by the disruption of economic activity in the region due to global economic headwinds, insecurity and tighter monetary conditions. The fiscal position in the region declined; monetary policy remained tight, and developments in the global economy confronted the external sector.
No Member State met all four (4) primary convergence criteria in 2022, the same as in 2021.
The number of Member States that met at least three (3) primary criteria dropped to four (4), namely, Benin, Niger, Guinea and Liberia, from eleven (11) in 2021, reflecting poor performance on the inflation and budget deficit criteria.
Sierra Leone met only one (1) criterion – Gross International Reserves equivalent to 3 months of import cover; it did not meet the criteria on single-digit inflation rate, fiscal deficit to GD ratio of no more than 4 percent, and the central bank deficit-financing of no more than 10% of the previous year’s tax revenues.
Along with the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Sierra Leone was represented throughout the Statutory Meetings. At the same time, the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Ghana, Francess V. Anderson, attended the meeting of the Convergence Council.
The meetings included the participation of the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) and the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM).
The fifteen (15) West African countries will continue implementing the roadmap to launch the single currency in 2027.