Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Patricia Nyanga Laverley
The International Development Association (IDA) and the government of Sierra Leone have signed a US $10m Agro-Business Financing Agreement for the Sierra Leone agro-processing competitiveness project. The loan, which is to be paid in 32 years, was recently approved by Parliament.
Presenting the loan agreement to the House for discussion, Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Patricia Nyanga Laverley, said the project’s main focus is the promotion of an enabling environment. This, she said, would cost $20m. Dr. Laverley said that these funds will go towards reducing the burden and constraints faced by agro-businesses through the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs).
According to reliable sources the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) will be in charge of reducing the cost of obtaining environmental license. Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) will also be there to develop a program for retention of agro-processing in the country.
The Deputy Minister stated that the Standard Bureau will help to improve standards of goods in the agro-business. Moreover, the Ministry of Trade is to be the sole beneficiary tasked with providing oversight function among the institutions and also enhance coordination and the proper setting up of agro-business.
Dr. Laverley further stated that $6m will be channeled towards increasing productivity and strengthening the key value chain of agro-business. It will also be used as investment to key innovators for the provision of secondary goods.
Approximately US $2m will be used for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation to help support the Coordinating Units to oversee the project preparation and contract management. Dr. Laverley explained that the project will enhance job creation and income generation, adding that it would also provide technical advancement to the SMEs and will strengthen productivity and also increase new investment in the market sector.