The country’s Finance Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa has been heavily criticized in recent times by a section of the public who complained that the economy is in tatters. Some point to the increase in prices of essential commodities, inflation, and depreciation of the Leones for such criticism.
Saffa, on the other hand, argued that things are not as bad as some may think. He said the National Revenue Authority had exceeded its target though it is challenged with tax exemptions and waivers with agreements and programs the administration met over a year ago.
The Finance Minister blamed the closing down of the Mines and non-functional export commodities largely to the challenges the economy is facing but promised: “We are trying to fix it.”
Saffa like President Bio believes that this is the worse situation the country will have to go through, but things will get better in the coming years.“The fiscal reform is on course, and some are meant for not only fifteen months that we have taken so far but five years,” he noted.
According to the World Bank’s Sierra Leone Economic update Report released in July this year, the country’s macroeconomic situation remains challenging despite the bold policy measures by the government.
The report states that growth is still low at 3.7 percent; inflation and exchange rate depreciation are high at 16.8 and 11.8 percent respectively. The fiscal and current deficits are high at 6.6, and 13.8 percent respectively, and an increasing debt has resulted in the country being downgraded from moderate to high risk of debt distress.
In a bid to stabilize the economy, The Bank of Sierra Leone has announced some measures including a fine or penalty on transaction of up to 10,000,000 United States Dollars done out of the Banking system.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants has also recommended that the Central Bank enforce laws that will stop the ‘Dollarization’ of the economy and the criminalization of the black market through the legislation and enforcement of already existing laws.
In his New Direction Manifesto, President Bio promised to transform an economy which he said the former government failed to develop by utilizing prudently from its natural wealth.
In June 2019, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources canceled the licenses and terminated the agreement between the government and Shangdong and Iron and Steel Group.The company is challenging the action in the Fast Track Commercial Court in Sierra Leone.
The Ministry also suspended the operation of SL Mining on allegations of its involvement in illegal and corrupt activities. The company has threatened to take court action against the government.
Mines Minister Rado Yokie who served as Member of Parliament has vowed to review and renegotiate mining licenses he described as terrible agreements and do not benefits the country.