By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah, yesterday disclosed that an agreement with the World Bank will make available direct cash transfers to poorest communities in four districts, totaling US$7million.
Briefing newsmen on the outcome of the recently concluded spring meetings in Washington D.C. with the management and staff of the Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the African Development Bank, Dr. Marah said that the Social Safety Nets grants will be managed by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) in Bombali and Kono districts, among others, adding, “About 10,000 people will benefit from this agreement.”
He maintained that during meetings with the World Bank, they confirmed the appropriateness of six (6) areas, including capacity building for the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, public transportation (Ferries and water buses), and technical support to the National Commission for Privatization (NCP), and the Bank’s assured support through ongoing and planned operations.
According to the Finance Minister, the Bank agreed to provide the necessary funding for the provision of new ferries to ensure that the problem of transportation across Lungi become a thing of the past.
Dr. Marah explained that during a meeting with the IMF, the issue of sovereign credit rating was thoroughly discussed and that the country is engaging international rating agencies to conduct a sovereign rating to enable it borrow from international capital markets at lower costs.
“To ensure the country is rated, the Standard Chartered Bank has been contacted to provide the necessary advises,” he said. “The first review of the Extended Credit Facility Programme supported by the IMF shows that all quantitative performance criteria for end of December 2013 were met and all structural benchmarks programmed for end-December were observed by the government.”
He opined that there is a stable macroeconomic environment characterized by double digit economic growth, single digit inflation, low interest rates, stable exchange rates and improved revenue performance, as well as trade surplus, due to high exports and sustainable external debt.
He ended up by stating that the British Department for International Development (DFID) is generally pleased with the country’s progress in fiscal consolidation and macroeconomic stabilization, the commitment to good governance, as well as new focus on inclusive growth.