The Economic Counselor of China in Sierra Leone, Shen Xiaokai has told Awoko that China’s help to Sierra Leone is purely because of the friendship and respect between the two countries.
He made this statement last weekend after the Minister of Foreign Affairs was invited to China by his counterpart.
He said since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) advised Sierra Leone on the airport, China has been negotiating with them and the Sierra Leone government so that they can have a meeting point before work could commence.
“At no time has China advised the Sierra Leone government to go against IMF, because we are fully aware that IMF is providing budget support and we are doing infrastructural development, so we believe in negotiation and that has been going on between the three parties,” Mr. Xiaokai maintained.
Mr. Xiaokai said the Sierra Leone Government sees the project as being very important and one with great potential for the country’s future growth. When the airport is constructed it will definitely help trigger a lot of development within the country’s economy including tourism potential and investment.
The Economic Counselor said Sierra Leone and its development partners – the IMF and World Bank, have been working as a team as they both have a duty to help and make sure Sierra Leone borrows prudently.
He said both IMF and World Bank are not against the new airport project, as all they want is to protect the country’s future capacity to meet its foreign debt payments.
Mr. Shen said he is optimistic the project will start soon as negotiations between Sierra Leone and the IMF is at an advanced stage and the visit of the Chinese officials from the Commerce Ministry, coupled with the visit of Dr. Samura Kamara to Beijing will see the project kick-start before end of this year.
“China has made the commitment to support Sierra Leone’s development drive in a range of sectors including human resource development, infrastructure, health and agriculture, amongst others,” Mr. Shen further noted, adding that they will continue to work with Sierra Leone especially this year as they celebrate the 45 years of Sino-Sierra Leone relationship.