Following the meeting of Bank Governors of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), Sheku Sambadeen Sesay on Friday, 27th January 2012 delivered his annual speech on the theme “ Financial Inclusion as a key enabler to Private Sector development: the role of the Bank of Sierra Leone”.
The Governor in his presentation described the current global economic performance and trends as “uncertain” adding that as “developments in the global financial environment grows over time the need for developing countries to achieve inclusive growth as a means to reducing poverty has become compelling”. Financial inclusion the BSL Chief argued has “emerged as a major tool for achieving this objective”.
Financial inclusion according the BSL Chief is “simply the extension of financial service” to those he termed as “the unbanked” noting that this trend “remains a challenge”. He stated that financial Inclusion should not be narrowed or limited to only “access to credit and capital”.
He disclosed his vision as Head of the Bank of Sierra Leone in achieving inclusion in the financial sector especially the rural poor. Every household he forwarded “needs access to a whole range of financial services”. Every household he emphasized “should have access to cheap and safe financial transaction, and savings services”. An inclusive financial system he argued “will help mobilize savings which would be channeled to the most productive users”.
BSL he said would ensure increased access to financial services in the country especially to people rural areas, provide the leadership needed to oversee the operations of financial service providers, promote diversity in financial services market, and ensure protection and confidence in financial market aimed at fighting fraud, abuse, technical and human error. The bank would also monitor and supervise the activities of operatives in the financial market
The BSL chief from an intellectual position also laid bare successes and challenges facing global financial developments, economic and financial performances on the African continent, the ECOWAS sub region, and landing at the home front Sierra Leone.
According to Sambadeen Sesay, the World Bank’s projected global growth “will fall by 3.3% in 2011- down from 3.8% in 2011 and advanced countries are expected to record 1.6% growth in 2011 and 1.2% in 2012. African economies on the other hand have recorded an average growth rate of 5.5% in 2011 spearheaded by oil production with an estimated growth of 5.9% and non oil producing countries at 4.9%”. Overall growth in the ECOWAS sub region averaged 8.0%.
He reaffirmed the Zone’s determination to achieve monetary union and a single currency by 2015. Sierra Leone has witnessed sustained growth of 5.3% against 5% in 2010, the BSL Governor noted.
Economic growth during the period under review, as indicated by Mr. Sambadeen Sesay was driven by what he termed as “buoyant activity in the mining sub sector, trade, telecommunications, financial services, construction and quarrying”.
Year-on-year inflation rates he disclosed have decreased slightly from 17.84% in December 2010 to 16.64% in December 2011. Interest rates on 91-days Treasury Bill he further disclosed, reduced from 24.54% in December to 23.42% in December2011. Commercial banks lending rates increased from 21-28% in 2010 to 21-29% in 2011. Credit to the private sector by commercial banks increased by 8.38%. The speech touched on the Annual Governor’s Dinner attended by senior state officials, representatives from the private sector and distinguished members of the public.
By Solomon Raye Wilson