- Minister seeks donors’ support to establish a National Development Bank
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Minister of Finance, Dr. Kaifala Marah with other dignitaries on the high table
Minister of Finance and Economic Development yesterday unveiled the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s 2013-2017 Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for Sierra Leone.
In his statement, Dr. Kaifala Marah commended the bank for being one of the partners that has demonstrated willingness to see the country move forward, while noting that the document is in tandem with the government’s ‘Agenda for Prosperity’.
He described the launch of the document as one of celebrations for the progress the country has been able to record over years, and that everyone should be proud and happy that “the country is taking the lead in transitioning towards the Green Growth Agenda”.
Dr. Marah used the occasion to implore development partners to come on board and support the government in establishing a National Development Bank, an institution that will create access to credit for Sierra Leoneans.
The bank’s Resident Representative, Dr. Yero Baldeh, said they have a long-standing partnership with the government and people of Sierra Leone since they started operation in the country in 1973, and that since then, they have succeeded in approving fifty-four (54) operations worth over US$600 million.
He noted that the CSP document emphasizes on joint programming of development partners and that implementation would be done in close partnerships with key stakeholders, citing civil society and development partners.
According to him, the CSP was prepared in close collaboration with the government, civil society and the private sector and was approved by the bank’s Board of Executive Directors in September this year.
“The CSP focuses on two main pillars: economic governance that would seek to consolidate public financial management gains and enhance transparent management of natural resource revenues and infrastructure development,” he said.
In his presentation of the CSP, AfDB’s Ansu Bangura stated that the country’s economic growth on average has been above sub-Saharan African (SSA) average levels due mainly to the recent phenomenal iron-ore led growth and that non iron ore growth has been around 5-6 percent driven by agriculture, services and construction.
According to him, poverty rates have declined by 13.1% in eight (8) years moving from 66% in 2003 to 52.9% in 2011, but stressed that the decline was more prominent in the urban than rural areas.
He disclosed that the underlying rationale for the strategy was driven by several critical factors: fragility assessment, economic diversification, regional integration, private sector led inclusive green growth, and stronger economic governance.
“Accordingly, the CSP is focused on two core pillars: Enhancing Economic Governance and Transparent Management of Natural Resource Revenue, as well as supporting transformational and sustainable (GREEN) infrastructure development,” he said and added that each pillar has three sub pillars but the strategy’s focus is on governance and infrastructure with a regional integration dimension.
Bangura opined that the Bank Group will use the most appropriate instruments to support the proposed strategy, including budget support and institutional support, investment lending (project loans) and grants, trust funds, ESWs and policy/country dialogue.
He emphasized that the aforementioned instruments will be used in a complementary manner to maximize synergies and in close partnership with other development partners, while also encouraging the active engagement of the private sector and civil society.