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Sierra Leone News: Deep debt cripples Sierra Leone economy

President Julius Maada Bio revealed, “Today, Sierra Leone’s external debt is over $2 billion USD and domestic debt is Le4.9 trillion. The country is already in a debt crisis, which, in collaboration with our development partners, we must urgently address.”
The initial assessment by his transition team revealed the worst economic situation since the country’s independence. He stressed, “Before now, the government could not pay monthly salaries without borrowing and relying on overdraft facilities at the Bank of Sierra Leone. The overdraft debt now stands at over Le160 billions.
President Bio held a meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) on at State House on Friday 13 April 2018.
In his statement, he said they have realized the enormous challenges the country faces.
President Bio said they have begun measures including, suspension of all duty waivers except those covered under the Vienna Convention. He has directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to transfer all revenues into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and has suspended the export of timber.
The President acknowledged, “It is clear that we cannot deliver on these without the support of our development partners and I hope that this forum will provide us with the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the challenges ahead of us, and guide us to take the urgently required measures.”
President Maada Bio stated, “We promised a change in direction to the people; a change that restores sanity in economic and financial management; a change that provides quality service delivery, which can only be realized when we make progress on transforming the economy, improve governance and human development,” he stressed.
The President affirmed his commitment to renegotiate with the IMF to resume implementation of External Credit Facility Program.
Philip Bai Koroma, an economist, described the present state of the country’s economy as in “bad shape” and that if not carefully handled it has the tendency of taking the nation into austerity. He said if it is true that the APC government were borrowing or heavily reliant on overdraft facility the both Bank of Sierra Leone and the Rokel Commercial Bank then fro all indications it means there is absolutely no reserve the then government will handover to the SLPP.
Koroma said it is embarrassing to know now what was going on under the APC regime in terms of generating revenue and spending. He said there is every reason for the present government to institute an enquiry to probe and come out with tangible reasons that led to the present state of the economy.
MK/BM/14/4/18
Monday April 16, 2018.

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