By Aminaash Nyande Brima,Information Attache,Rabat, Morocco
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, has participated in the 2023 IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting in the southern Moroccan city of Marrakech, where he called for urgent action to tackle rising inequality.
The event hosted up to 14,000 delegates from 190 countries, bringing together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, civil society, media and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, global financial stability, and poverty.
The meetings focused on what it will take to end poverty on a livable planet, the need to respond to intertwine global challenges and, provided an excellent opportunity for IMF and World Bank to address the growing chorus of criticism that poorer nations are underrepresented at the two institutions. And the calls to reform in order to better help vulnerable nations deal with poverty and climate change.
Making his speech during a high-level panel discussion on “Closing the Divide: Strengthening World Bank Goals to Fight Inequality,” Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, stated that addressing inequality is a complex and gradual process, stating that inequality does not change overnight. He outlined the government’s strategy, which involves prioritizing education to build human capital and expanding investments in the agriculture sector.
Minister Bangura also highlighted the government’s efforts to protect the poor through a revised tax policy with broad-based taxation, which includes exemptions for essential services.
He affirmed government commitment in actively working on various social interventions, with a particular focus on women and youth to bridge the inequality gap and emphasized the persistent inequalities within and between countries. According to Minister Bangura, the political aspirations of politicians have often contributed to the widening divide between the rich and the poor and called for the need for bold measures to combat inequality and to track progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goals 10 (SDG10).
The group of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, including the Minister of Finance Sheku A.F Bangura, underscored the urgent global need to combat rising inequality and set more ambitious targets to create a fairer and more equitable world. Other prominent speakers emphasized the importance of tackling inequality on multiple fronts.
In another discussion, the Minister of Finance Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura emphasized the growing importance of capacity development related to tax and spending policy and highlighted
two crucial factors that are key to effective capacity development in Africa. The Minister stressed the significance of the continent’s absorptive capacity and financial constraints, which, when addressed strategically, could significantly contribute to Africa’s economic empowerment.
Talking on the issue of financial constraints, Minister Bangura stated the cost implications of implementing certain reforms, which may require additional investments. Some reforms, he said, could necessitate hardware support to complement the assistance provided and that failure to plan adequately for these financial considerations could undermine the effectiveness of the training and support provided. He underscored the critical role of addressing absorptive capacity and financial constraints as a means to empower Africa’s economic development and resilience.
The Minister of Finance, Sheku A.F Bangura, announced government’s intention to maintain its engagement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as Sierra Leone’s three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approaches its end after the eighth review. According to him, the government’s current engagement under the ECF, approved on June 5, 2017, for approximately US$224.2 million (78 percent of Sierra Leone’s quota), is coming to a close, with the last review in progress.
The Minister anticipates a disbursement of about $20 million from the Fund upon the completion of this review. He reaffirmed Sierra Leone’s commitment to a sustained partnership with the IMF, the quest for financial support, and the pursuit of responsible debt management practices in the face of economic challenges and shocks.
The Sierra Leone delegation actively participated in discussions that address the global issues concerning Africa and other developing countries and these engagements revolve around debt management, development financing, and the desired reforms from institutions like the Bretton Woods institutions to promote support for developing countries, especially in Africa.
The IMF, during the one week conference, agreed to expand its executive board from 24 to 25 members to give Africa another seat and also agreed to increase their contributions to the global lender and give sub-Saharan Africa a third seat on its executive board to boost the continent’s voice within the IMF.
Boosting the International Monetary Fund’s quota resources and giving Africa a bigger voice within the institution were among the priorities of the week-long talks of the IMF and World Bank in Marrakech.