May 29, 2017 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Momodu Kargbo, has disclosed that his ministry together with other development partners has committed four million nine hundred thousand United States Dollars to support businesses in Sierra Leone.
Mr. Kargbo made the disclosure at their George Street Conference Room on Thursday, 25th May, 2017, during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding with the International Labour Organization (ILO), for effective implementation of the life changing project.
He said $350,000 would be allocated to Small and Medium Enterprises to develop the activities in all 14 districts across the country.
He said the objective of the MOU was to support government’s effort in addressing the SMEs development challenges, thus noting that the project was an outcome of the ILO Mission Report of May 2016.
He noted that the committee on SMEs was headed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, with the Bank of Sierra Leone and MoFED providing supporting roles.
He said the government of Sierra Leone was pursuing sustainable economic growth through economic diversification to fully recover from the twin shocks of the outbreak of the Ebola and the sharp decline in prices of iron.
He said the macroeconomic situation remains challenging but the economy was recovering with real GDP growth resuming and overall growth was estimated to have reached 6.1 percent in 2016.
He furthered that the recovery and sustainable economic growth can only be achieved with the active participation of the private sector and the local SMEs,hence the reason government has taken significant steps to support the growth of the sector and to providing them the ideal business climate.
He said the ‘made in Sierra Leone’ concept that he announced in the 2016 budget was a deliberate policy aimed at promoting growth, productivity and value addition of locally produced goods to achieve import substitution that would enable local SMEs to benefit from government procurements.
He said the made in Sierra Leone’ concept sought to ignite patriotism towards the consumption of locally produced goods and to encourage local producers to improve the quantity and quality of goods.
He said government through the Bank of Sierra Leone was also working to improving access to affordable finance and has put forward a number of bills, which, when enacted, would facilitate increased access to finance for Sierra Leoneans businesses.
“I consider this MOU with the ILO as very timely and it will support government’s effort, as it aims to simplify and create synergy in the SMEs landscape with strong collaboration with government,” he said.
According to Denis Zulu, Director of ILO English-speaking West African countries, the objective of the MOU was to support government’s effort in addressing SME challenges in the country.
Earlier, the Deputy Bank Governor of Sierra Leone,Dr.Ibrahim Stevens, said they were delighted to be part of the ceremony as the central bank has strong interest in the development of micro and medium enterprises in its economy
He said the economic prosperity and growth was a story never told without the SMEs been present, and that great nations across the world also depend on SMEs to boost their economies.
He said they recently published their financial strategy, including financial literacy and that they were doing all they could to showcase that they have key interest to strengthening the financial sector in the country.
He said they welcome the signing of the MOU and promised that they would make sure that they provide exclusive environment for SMEs.