His Excellency Brigadier (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio on Friday 13th April 2018 met with the International Monitory Fund (IMF) Mission Chief for Sierra Leone Brain Aitken at State House in Freetown.
The meeting which was also attended by His Excellency the Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Minister of Finance Designate Jacob Jusu Saffa and Financial Secretary Designate Sahr Lahai Jusu was centered around economic and bilateral discussions between the Government of Sierra Leone and the IMF.
The IMF Chief started by congratulating President Bio and the people of Sierra Leone for a peaceful elections as well as expressing his appreciation to His Excellency for the audience accorded to them.
He said the IMF is willing to commence discussions as well as restarting the suspended IMF programmes in Sierra Leone stating that the IMF will collaborate and facilitate with the Government of Sierra Leone in achieving its priorities. Aitken promised that they will continue to engage the Government of Sierra Leone on its programmes.
In his response, His Excellency President Bio expressed his gratitude to the IMF for their support to the Government and People of Sierra Leone. He disclosed that he is inheriting a Government that is financially challenged stating that his administration is determined to engage the IMF in order to help revamp the nation’s broken economy.
He told a joint meeting of the IMF and the finance ministry that he had inherited an economy in its worst shape since independence in 1961. Government’s initial assessments show that external and domestic debts stand at 2.6 billion dollars which is two-thirds the size of the country’s economy.
The two state-owned banks – Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and Rokel Commercial Bank – are in an unhealthy state with huge non-performing loans some of which were given for political reasons.
While appealing to the IMF for help, the president has limited excessive overseas and local travels, centralized the payment of all non-tax revenues collected and controlled procurement and maintenance of vehicles.
President Bio cited few Executive Orders that his government has already instituted in order to help increase revenue generation as well as tackle unnecessary government expenditure ranging from the decrease in oversees travelling to temporal ban on timber exportation among others.
President Bio ended by pledging his Government’s commitment to speedily resume the IMF programmes in the country as well as revamping the nation’s economy.