May 31, 2018
By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
At the launch of the Regional Economic Outlook (REO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected a modest growth uptick for Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, from 2.8% in 2017 to 3.4% in 2018.
Speaking yesterday during a seminar held at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) on the April 2018 Regional Economic Outlook for SSA on the theme ‘Domestic Revenue Mobilisation and Private Investment’, the IMF resident representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Iyabo Masha said SSA countries were seeing a moderate growth uptick with growth accelerating in two third of the countries.
Dr. Masha, in a power point presentation, said that there has been remarkable economic growth from 1995 to 2015, adding that growth has since been moderate.
Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Jacob Jusu Saffa, who chaired the seminar, said this year’s theme could not be more relevant to Sierra Leone and other SSA countries.
He said the REO was one of the key flagship publications of the IMF that is released twice each year by the Africa Department of the Briton Woods institution to complement the world’s Economic Outlook and provide a comprehensive assessment of recent macroeconomic development and the economic outlook across SSA.
The minister opined that the publication plays a key role in contributing to a better understanding of Africa’s economies and a deeper appreciation of both the opportunities that the region offers and challenges it faces, including vulnerabilities.
Mr. Saffa noted that countries in sub-Sahara continue to face challenges despite the support they have been getting from international partners.
“Sub-Saharan Africa continues to face critical challenges despite tremendous support from development partners, including the IMF and World Bank Group. Poverty remains intolerably high, the benefits of robust economic growth have not trickled down to the poor and many countries continue to be afflicted by conflict,” he said.
The minister said that in order to translate the growth into long term gains, the fund has recommended that countries implement a prudent fiscal policy to address the growing public debt and appropriate monetary policies to contain inflation.
He commended the IMF for supporting their development programmes through technical advice and financial assistance, thus recalling that the first meeting his government held with the IMF and the World Bank to re-launch the Extended Credit Facility which was initially delayed till after the election was successful, adding that the Fund’s team would visit the country this June to discuss the way forward.
He noted that the country was facing huge debt crisis, which makes the REO critical to Sierra Leone.
“We are currently facing significant challenges especially on the macroeconomic front. Domestic revenue collection is very low even compared to other countries in the sub-region, inflation is very high with serious implication for living conditions of the average Sierra Leoneans. Our debt level is high amounting to over Le 16 trillion,” he noted.