March 16, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Minister of Finance and Economic Development Friday (13 March) said rather confidently that regardless of challenges faced as a result of the Ebola outbreak, the government has tried as best as they could to ensure that the country’s economy is on track.
While updating journalists and civil society organisations on the Ebola recovery plan, among other things, Dr. Kaifala Marah said his claim is self-evident as salaries are being paid on time while infrastructure projects are still ongoing.
He maintained that the economy is in a good trajectory with the hope of continuing to be among the fastest growing economies in the world just as in pre-Ebola times.
“We have been working hard as a government to keep our economy on track. Interest rate on domestic securities has remained between 1 to 5%. We have done what we could to ensure that the economy continues on a positive trajectory,” he said.
He said the country’s growth rate, which was projected to be at 11.3%, has been reversed to 6%, with inflation rate – pegged at 12% in 2012 – around 6.4% in May 2014, although it has since increased to about 9% because of the Ebola outbreak.
According to Dr. Marah, the agricultural sector, free healthcare initiative and cross border trade were also adversely affected, with job loss in the private sector standing at 50%.
“We have realised food poverty because a good number of our farmers abandoned their farms and poverty took a toll in some rural areas because people couldn’t access the farms to harvest their products,” he noted and disclosed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be disbursing $114.63 million with over $29 million of that going to debt relief, and about $36.47 million for budget support.
The Finance Minister opined that significant progress has been made in designing a recovery plan which will primarily focus on addressing emergency issues, as well as getting down to zero new infection, adding: “The European Bank and other multilateral banks are standing by to provide us with support but we need to consolidate the opportunities created as a result of the EVD to be part of the social delivery system either in health or other sectors.”