FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, September 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Ms. Malangu Kabedi-Mbuyi visited Freetown during September 3–12 to carry out follow-up discussions on Sierra Leone’s economic and financial program for 2013–16 that could be supported by the IMF under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). The mission met with Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kaifala Marah; Central Bank Governor, Sheku Sesay; and other senior officials.
At the end of the mission, Ms. Kabedi-Mbuyi issued the following statement in Freetown:
“Preliminary data indicate that macroeconomic developments were positive in the first half of 2013. Economic activity was strong and consumer price inflation declined. In the fiscal area, revenue performance exceeded expectations, and expenditure execution was consistent with budgetary appropriations. These developments augur well for the 2013 projections that set growth of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at about 13 percent; the inflation rate at 9 percent; and the overall budget deficit at 3.1 percent of non-iron ore GDP.
“Economic prospects for 2014 are encouraging. Real GDP growth is forecast at 14 percent, the inflation rate is expected to decline further, and the current account deficit of the balance of payments is projected to narrow to 10.5 percent of non-iron ore GDP (19.1 percent in 2013), while reserve coverage would improve to 3.4 months of imports. Revenue collection efforts are expected to continue, to increase fiscal space for priority spending. The overall budget deficit is projected at 4.5 percent of non-iron ore GDP. Key structural reform areas are: private sector development, financial sector development and access to financial services for small- and medium-sized enterprises, and public financial management.
“The mission and the authorities agreed that to consolidate progress made in recent years toward macroeconomic stability, and enhance prospects for broad-based and inclusive economic growth, it would be critical to maintain prudent and sound economic policies, advance structural reforms, and develop social protection systems. The authorities reiterated their commitment to fiscal discipline, tight monetary policy in support of single-digit inflation, and prudent borrowing.
“The mission confirmed understandings reached with the authorities earlier in 2013 on a medium-term policy framework that would underpin a three-year ECF-supported program. It is expected that the IMF Executive Board would discuss the authorities’ request for a new program, together with the 2013 Article IV consultation in the coming weeks.
“The mission wishes to express its gratitude to the authorities for constructive discussions.”
International Monetary Fund (IMF)