Members of the Appointment and the Public Service Committee yesterday vetted the new proposed Minster of Finance and Economic Development and the Bank Governor of the Central Bank of Sierra Leone.
As expected, if ratified, Mr. Momodu Kargbo and Dr. Kaifala Marah will be swapping positions.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ibrahim R. Bundu, said their nominations was not compensation but a call to serve the country, adding that both men would be interviewed base on information they avail to the committee and from members of the public.
Responding to a question posed by Deputy House Speaker, Hon. Chernoh R.M. Bah, as to what to expect from him as Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo said the minister would preside over high crucial tasks as there are budgetary gaps that needed to be filled with immediate effect.
He conceded that the country was currently grappling with high inflation, which he blamed on the fact that she was heavily reliant on importing goods and services, including uniforms for soldiers, sewing machines, fabrics and thread used to sow them.
Mr. Kargbo said the Central Bank, where he was governor until President Ernest Bai Koroma reassigned him to the Finance Ministry, had conducted a tour to public and commercial banks and that they wrote in their recommendation that at least five percent of would-be exports should remain in the country.
“We are currently working with the Ministries of Trade and Agriculture in supporting SMEs development and innovating financing, and we also want to include the Fisheries Ministry to increase our productivity; we have also sent out people to Ghana and Nigeria to be trained on how their productivity aspects are carried out. I will make sure all these are implemented if Parliament approves me,” he said.
He added that: “Just three weeks ago, we asked all the banks to give us their lending and interest rate wherein we found out that there is no standard rate they are all working with, only Union Trust Bank is currently working at the rate of 14%, compared to the other banks, instead of the 25%. We are currently working to improve such activities with them; it should be in the Borrowers and Lenders Act.
He further said that He plans to create scarcity of the Leone in the market as means of curbing currency’s downward spiral.
On his part, Dr. Kaifala Marah said the country’s economy was growing, if compared to the previous year – 2015, when the country’s GDP decreased by 21 percent during the outbreak of Ebola. For the economy to grow, he said, it has to be led by the private sector.
He said mining, agriculture and telecommunication sectors are growing rapidly, adding that eleven major agric-based businesses are working in the country, while Shandong mining company had commenced operations.
Meanwhile, the first of 40 ministerial nominees are due to be ratified by the rest of the House, with Hon. Alimamy P. Koroma, ambassador designate to China, one of those expected to be given the green light to begin work.