Dr Floribert Ngaruko, a Burundi national, who serves as the Executive Director for 22 African countries, including Sierra Leone, is in Freetown to consult with the Government on Sierra Leone’s development agenda, including key priorities and challenges.
In a courtesy meeting with the Minister of Finance on Monday, 20th February 2023, at his George Street office, the Executive Director highlighted issues around Macroeconomic Outlook, Poverty and Food Security, Structural reform priorities and status, Debt Sustainability, Private Sector Development and Overall Portfolio Performance as areas of interest during his stay in Sierra Leone.
In his statement, the Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, welcomed the ED to Sierra Leone. He stated that 2022 was a challenging year for not only Sierra Leone but also Sub-Sahara Countries and the rest of the world.
The Minister further stated that global ececonomic uncertainties, spillovers from the Russia- Ukraine war, supply chain disruptions, and a sharp rise in the prices of food and fuel adversely affected domestic economic performance, saying economic growth projected at 2.1 per cent in 2023 and inflation to a moderate 24% in 2023 and 18% in 2024.
The Minister intimated to his guest that domestic revenue is projected to increase from 13.2% in 2022 to 20% in the next five years, mainly reflecting gains from implementing the Medium-Term Revenue Mobilisation strategy.
Despite all of the challenges highlighted by the Minister, he informed the ED that the government is committed to implementing Human Capital Development Programmes by allocating 22% of the budget to education, improving the quality of health and sanitation and strengthening health systems, expanding social safety net programmes for the poor and vulnerable groups, support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises through the MUNAFA Funds and efforts to improve on food security.
Minister of Finance Sheku Bangura also mentioned key reforms in Mining, Lands, Gender, Education and Financial sectors under the Structural Reforms priorities with the Bank.
Dr Floribert Ngaruko, the Executive Director, thanked the Minister for the warm welcome and reception. He also thanked the Minister for the update, stating that the next DPO will focus on private sector development, sustainability and resilience.
Dr Floribert Ngaruko stated that they want the next set of DOP reforms to be packaged, targeting the private sector. He admonishes the government to improve the project disbursement rate and the country’s CPIA rating to attract more funding.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Bockarie Kalokoh, highlighted reforms in the financial sector leveraging on ICT, the migration of the IFMIS system and the Implementation of the Treasury Single Account.
The Financial Secretary Sahr Lahai Jusu spoke about efforts by the government to increase domestic revenue mobilisation and improve expenditure management and control. He also cited the government’s statutory priority and how the depreciation of the Leones against the US Dollar has impacted expenditure,
The World Bank portfolio in Sierra Leone contains 23 current operations with a total amount of US$1,135,194,000.
The Executive Director will meet senior government officials and the private sector and visit some World Bank Funded project sites before departing on Thursday, 23rd February 2023.