Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Mission to Sierra Leone

By International Monetary Fund (IMF)
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Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Mission to Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, May 22, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Ms. Malangu Kabedi-Mbuyi visited Freetown during May 8–21 to carry out discussions for the 2013 Article IV consultation and for a three-year economic and financial program that could be supported by the IMF under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). The mission held discussions with Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kaifala Marah; Central Bank Governor, Sheku Sesay; members of Parliament; representatives of the business community; development partners; and other senior officials.

At the end of the mission, Ms. Kabedi-Mbuyi issued the following statement in Freetown:

“Sierra Leone's economic growth accelerated to15.2 percent in 2012, reflecting the emergence of large-scale iron ore extraction as well as sustained expansion in agriculture, services, and construction. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to grow at 13 percent in 2013. Consumer price inflation declined from 16.9 percent in 2011, to 12 percent in 2012, aided by prudent monetary policy and stable exchange rate. It is forecast to decline further in 2013. Sierra Leone's external position improved in 2012, strengthening the reserve coverage.

“In the fiscal area, the overall budget deficit reached 5.6 percent of non-iron ore GDP, up from 4.6 percent in 2011 partly reflecting infrastructure investment scaling up and higher spending in goods and services. The deficit was financed largely with short-term treasury bills. For 2013, the budget deficit would be contained below 4 percent of non-iron ore GDP, thanks to the expected increase in revenue mobilization, and enhanced expenditure management.

“Policy discussions focused on creating fiscal space to continue supporting investment in infrastructure and human development, reducing inflation to single-digits, facilitating access to financial services, and creating an environment conducive to private sector development and job creation. The mission agreed with the authorities that medium-term structural reforms should focus on bolstering revenue mobilization, strengthening public financial management, maintaining prudent borrowing policies, and deepening financial intermediation.

“The mission reached preliminary understandings with the authorities on key elements of a medium-term economic and financial program that could be supported by the IMF under the ECF. Discussions between the mission and the authorities will continue in coming weeks.

“The mission wishes to thank the Sierra Leone authorities for candid and constructive discussions in Freetown.”