Press Release: Statement by an IMF Staff Mission to the Republic of Sierra Leone

March 4, 2008

Press Release No. 08/41

The following statement was issued today in Freetown by Norbert Toé, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief for the Republic of Sierra Leone:

"An IMF mission visited Freetown during February 20-March 4, 2008 to review the performance under the three-year arrangement under the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and discuss an economic program for 2008. The mission met with His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, the Honorable Speaker of the House Justice Abel Strong, the Honorable Minister of Finance David O. Carew, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Dr. Samura Kamara, other government and central bank officials, and representatives of the business community, financial institutions, labor unions, and civil society.

"The mission noted the commendable efforts made in meeting a number of preset quantitative conditions for measuring performance under the Fund-supported program. The mission encouraged the government to step up the pace of implementation of structural reforms, (for example, with steps to strengthen the National Revenue Authority and to adopt a strategy for the reform of the financial sector) for which significant delays have been observed.

"The short-term outlook for economic growth remains favorable, but keeping inflation pressures at bay represents a challenge given price developments in international commodity markets.

"In discussing the economic program for 2008, the government recognizes the risks to macroeconomic stability if weak domestic revenue performance is not addressed promptly. The mission urged steps to improve revenue collection and exercise rigorous control over budget execution while ensuring a high quality of public spending. In particular, expenditure commitments needed to be monitored closely to avoid the accumulation of domestic payment arrears.

"In the coming weeks, the authorities and Fund staff will pursue further discussions on some remaining issues related to fiscal priorities and the structural reform agenda.

"The mission would like to thank the authorities for their excellent cooperation."


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