FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, April 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission visited Freetown during March 17-April 1, 2014 for the first review of Sierra Leone’s program supported by the IMF through the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).The mission met with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah; the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Mr. Sheku Sesay; other senior officials of the government and the central bank, representatives of the business community and civil society, and development partners.
The following statement was issued today in Freetown by IMF Mission Chief Malangu Kabedi-Mbuyi:
“Economic activity continues to expand robustly, mainly on account of a sharp increase in mining activity. Output expanded by an estimated 20 percent in 2013, 5½ percent excluding iron-ore mining activity. Reflecting subdued food prices, inflation has also continued to decelerate to 8½ percent at end-2013. Gross international reserves reached 3½ months of import cover, supported by increased export receipts from iron ore. The fiscal position improved, reflecting a strong revenue performance and expenditure restraint. The overall fiscal deficit is estimated to have narrowed to 1.9 percent of non-iron ore GDP, from 5.6 percent in 2012.
“Program implementation remained good. At the end of December 2013, all quantitative performance criteria were met; and all quantitative indicative targets, but one, were observed. The indicative floor on poverty-related spending was lower than programmed mainly because of slower-than-expected execution of investment financed domestically. Structural reform measures planned for the end of December were also implemented on time.
“Good progress was made in program review discussions. The mission expects to discuss remaining policy issues with the authorities in the coming weeks, with a view to paving the way for the IMF’s Executive Board consideration of the review before end-June.
“The mission would like to thank the authorities for their continued excellent cooperation.”