By Alfred Koroma
Presently, Sierra Leone uses two currencies: the Old Leones (Le) and the New Leones (NLE).
The use of the two currencies follows after the introduction of a newly redenominated currency on the 1 July, 2022.
After the launch of the New Leones, the Old Leones was slated to cease being a legal tender in October last year, but Bank of Sierra Leone extended its expiry date 31st March, 2023.
About seven months since the introduction of the redenominated currency, the old notes remain dominant in the market, fuelling questions on the adequacy of the redenominated notes.
The Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Mathew Sahr Nyuma has said they are having difficulty using the two currencies.
“It is very difficult at this time, thinking about the economy, the difficulty we are having with the two currencies we are using and the system in the global trend,” the MP said while approving the new Minister of Finance in the Well of Parliament last week Thursday. “We are having difficulty with the two currencies we are using.”
Since its redenomination, the value of the Leone currency has sharply drained and become almost worthless against the US dollar, hitting local markets the hardest ever. Prices of food and other basic commodities in the country have increasingly soared with the cost of living incommensurate to the earning strength of citizens.
The crisis is also the consequences of a blistering global economic situation cause as a result of COVID19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
But it’s challenging for Sierra Leoneans to understand global economic crisis locally as many have lost trust in their Bank Governor, Professor Kelfala Kallon who had publicly boasted about wasting the country’s resources in bribery.
The Governor has also publicly admitted he is unable to help ameliorate the country’s economic situation, yet he remains Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone despite several calls for his resignation or for the President to sack him.
“…I also want to tell the people of this country that I am gravely sorry that I am in a situation where I know we are all hurting but I don’t have the capacity to get rid of that hurt,” the Bank Governor told AYV’s Lamrana Bah in an interview in September, 2022.
Critics believe Sierra Leone’s economic situation could not have been worse as it is presently, if the old man had been moved out of the Bank.
In October, Parliament moved a motion to summon him with Dennis K Vandi, the then Minister of Financeto brief MPs as the country’s economic situation fails to become better.
About two weeks ago, President Bio sacked Vandy and appointed Deputy Finance Minister, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura to replace him. Bangura is the third Finance Minister the President has appointed in four and half years of his administration.