The head of the IMF staff review mission to Sierra Leone, Ms. Karen Ongley said the country’s economic landscape remains challenging but that the authorities have navigated the difficulties well in the year since taking office, helping to stabilize the economy.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Karen Ongley, met with Vice President of Sierra Leone, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, and other government stakeholders during their visit in Freetown in April 23-May 7, 2019 to conduct the first review of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF)arrangement approved by the Executive Board on November 30, 2018.
The IMF’s Executive Board is expected to consider first ECF review by end-June 2019. Completion of the review would make available US$ 21.5 million, bringing total disbursements under the program to about US$ 43 million.
Ms. Ongley said Real GDP looks set to pick up this year to 5.1 percent, thanks in part to the resumption of iron ore mining, adding that, after peaking above 19 percent last September, inflation moderated to 17.5 percent in March and is projected to continue tracking down over 2019.
“Faced with serious constraints on budget financing, the authorities kept the budget in check through stronger‑than‑programmed revenue performance and spending well below the budget. As a result, the overall deficit narrowed from 8.8 percent in 2017 to 5.8 percent in 2018. However, delays in donor receipts and uneven liquidity in the banking system, posed challenges for deficit financing and monetary policy, and impacted program performance.
“While program performance is broadly on track, slower than expected progress on structural reforms reflects the magnitude of policy challenges. Nine of the ten quantitative targets were met for end‑December 2018 and end‑March 2019,” she said.
She also said that the country’s authorities and the mission reached understandings on economic policies aimed at enhancing accountability in managing public resources, diversifying the economy and promoting more resilient and inclusive growth.
“The authorities’ commitment to mobilizing domestic revenue and improving expenditure management to achieve a gradual reduction in the deficit will help ensure that public debt returns to a sustainable path,” she noted.