OCTOBER 27, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Minister of Finance and Economic Development has disclosed that the government of Sierra Leone has spent the sum of Le39 billion in the fight against the deadly Ebola disease since it broke out six months ago in the Kailahun district, eastern Sierra Leone.
Dr. Kaifala Marah, while addressing a delegation from the Africa Union Commission at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Freetown last Thursday, said the country is going through financial difficulties as the economy is dwindling on a daily basis. He noted that despite the financial crunch, the government has spent huge resources from home source revenue to contain the deadly virus.
He said that prior to the outbreak of the disease, the social and economic growth rate of the country was 11.3% – one of the fastest growing economies in the West Africa sub-region – adding that all the strides made in the past years are being put aback by the Ebola outbreak.
The outbreak has killed more than 1,000 persons in less than six months, infecting more than 3,000 more. The spread of the virus has brought the economy to its knees with many businesses scaling down, flights cancelled indefinitely, and hotels closing.
“We reached at a particular moment when we wanted to roll out our industrial plan. Currently the country’s growth has drastically dropped from 11% to 6%, and I am afraid that it will further reduce to 4% by the end of the year,” said Dr. Marah.
“This is because businesses are closing, revenues have dropped. In fact one of the mining companies in the country, the London Mining, is in a critical transition because we are told that prices for iron ore has as well reduced in the market. We are effectively utilizing our merger resources to fight Ebola. Our expenditure on Ebola is Le39 billion. It is important to note that we are doing well on inflation. When pledges are made we make use of it, but a good number of them are not coming directly to government. This is why I will, as Minister of Finance, ask for more support from our international partners, including the AU.”
The minister added that the economic stability of the country is largely dependent on income generating activities, although the Ebola outbreak presents a lot of challenges in generating more revenue.
The AU delegation, headed by Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, was in the country to show solidarity to the government and people of Sierra Leone in the face of the deadliest Ebola outbreak in the world.