Sierra Leone’s Financial Secretary, Sahr Lahai Jusu, on the popular Radio Democracy Good Morning Salone program on June 7th, 2023. With his background as a Harvard-trained economist, effectively explained the country’s current economic situation and the government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of various challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and the Russia-Ukraine war.

Jusu emphasized the importance of Sierra Leone’s Economic Programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a crucial benchmark for engaging with other development and donor partners.

He highlighted the positive growth and progress achieved between 2018 and early 2020, with Sierra Leone experiencing GDP growth from 3.6% in 2018 to 5.5% in 2019, as well as an increase in the domestic revenue-to-GDP ratio from 12.3% to 15.8% in 2019.

Furthermore, the Financial Secretary outlined the government’s efforts to address the Covid-19 crisis and alleviate its economic burden on the people.

These efforts included a comprehensive response program encompassing healthcare and economic measures. The government successfully implemented social mobilization and clinical responses, as well as the Quick Economic Action Response Programme.

This program facilitated the importation of essential commodities, provided tax and duty waivers for businesses, expanded social safety nets for vulnerable groups, and created employment opportunities through road re-graveling projects spanning over 1000 kilometers across the country.

In a composed and relaxed manner, Jusu also explained the issues related to the public sector wage bill and how the newly established Wages and Compensation Commission would address wage disparities and working conditions across the public sector.

He discussed recent government reforms and commitments aimed at enhancing domestic revenue mobilization, improving fiscal consolidation, reducing inflation, and promoting macroeconomic and financial stability. These measures lay the foundation for inclusive, green, and sustainable economic growth.

Regarding the recent approval and disbursement of US$ 20.08 million by the IMF Executive Board, Jusu quoted Mr. Bo Li, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, who recognized the significant economic challenges faced by Sierra Leone due to multiple shocks, including the Russia-Ukraine war. Mr. Li commended the government’s commitment to increasing tax revenues, which represents a necessary step towards tightening the fiscal stance while creating room for priority social spending.

Jusu also informed the audience that the IMF approval would encourage other international financial institutions to increase their support for the government’s priority programs, including Human Capital Development.

He mentioned ongoing negotiations with the World Bank for a budget support disbursement of 65 million United States dollars in 2023 and discussions with the European Union to restore budget support amounting to approximately 100 million Euros over four years.

Additionally, he expressed confidence that the approval would facilitate negotiations with the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for the Compact’s signing by the end of 2023.