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In Sierra Leone, U.K. Development Minister Pays A Working Visit To Central Bank Governor
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Nov 22, 2013, 16:37
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FREETEWON: The UK Development Minister for Africa, Ms. Lynne Featherstone, during her short visit to Sierra Leone paid a working visit to the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Mr. Sheku Sambadeen Sesay on Wednesday 20th November, in recognition of the Banks contributions to macro-economic stability in Sierra Leone and its critical role in the countrys growth prospects.

 

The Honorable Minister was accompanied by the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Mr. Peter West, the Head of the Department for International Development (DFID) SL Mr. Phil Evans and her delegation from the UK.

 
Hon. Development Minister Ms. Lynne Featherstone and her U.K. visiting delegation at a meeting with Gov. Sheku Sambadeen Sesay

 

The UK Minister and the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone exchanged views about the countrys recent economic performance, growth prospects, challenges and opportunities. She noted with satisfaction that inflation was at a single digit, interest rate for Government securities have plummeted to an all time low of 4% from as high as 23% a few years ago, the exchange rate of the Leone to other major international currencies has remained stable over the past three years and external reserves are comfortable. These developments, she said, have created space for enhanced private sector led investment with a potential to reduce unemployment, particularly for women and youth. She highlighted unemployment especially among youths, focus on improvement of the living conditions of women and girls and cost of credit as areas of concern.

 

Reacting, Governor Sambadeen Sesay, assured the Honorable Minister that considerable efforts have been made on the development of all sectors of the economy, in particular infrastructure and improvement of the enabling environment for private sector development. Commercial banks, he added, now negotiate lending rate resulting from the dramatic drop in all tenures of treasury bills rates, pillar eight of the Agenda for Prosperity focuses on issues affecting women and girls, private sector investment has improved and youth employment has been mainstreamed attracting funding and support from international donors.

 

L-R: Hon. Ms. Lynne Featherstone Dev. Minister for Africa and Gov Sambadeen Sesay


Governor Sesay noted that challenges still remain; highlighting the need to lower lending rates further, improve infrastructure,  electricity and water  supply  to reduce cost  of doing  business. He stressed the need to provide entrepreneurial training for the private sector and skill training for youths.

 

The Bank for its part, he said, is implementing a financial sector development plan aimed at, among others, enhancing access to finance, improving the regulatory framework in the financial sector, enhancing and encouraging support for the development of small and medium scale enterprises.

 

The UK Development Minister for Africa assured Governor Sambadeen Sesay that the British Government is heartened by the results of the countrys economic development efforts and will continue to be a reliable partner along the way.

 

Hon Ms. Lynne Featherstone making a point

 

She indicated that extensive reforms were underway in the Department for International Development (DFID) to strengthen support for the development efforts of countries like Sierra Leone but will, in the process, seek enhanced engagement with the privates sector with a view to providing the necessary technical and financial support to them. The aim for this change, she added, is to secure increased private sector investment, improved lives of women and girls and accelerated youth employment.  Institutions like the Bank of Sierra Leone, she maintained, will continue to play a critical role as partners in this effort.

 

On a related matter, the Minister consented to a request by the Governor to assist in mobilizing support for a robust 17th replenishment of the International Development Associations (IDA) of the World Bank, given that 50% of the resources are earmarked for Africa. The Governor was speaking in his capacity as the borrowers representative for Africa in the 17th replenishment process.

 

At the end of their meeting, the Governor expressed gratitude to the Honorable Minister for all the assistance provided to the Government and People of Sierra Leone by UK.  The two personalities agreed to maintain the close ties between their Institutions through the usual channels and to build on on-going efforts aimed at achieving mutually shared objectives


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