The Government of Sierra Leone has assured business community and called for joint efforts to address economic challenges.
The business community was engaged in a consultative meeting geared towards giving them assurance of the efforts the government is making to address the currency exchange and economic challenges affecting the smooth running of their businesses.
The stakeholders that were engaged included importers, exporters, manufacturers, oil marketers and other players in the private sector.
Importers’ Association Secretary General, Rashid Conteh, highlighted several issues he categorised as challenges affecting their businesses, from exchange rate depreciation and instability, interest rate, shipping cost and bureaucracies at the port and others.
Other speakers also put across similar issues as the reason for the rise in prices of commodities and the exchange rate challenges.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Edward Hinga Sandy thanked them for their attendance and encouraged them to have more dialogue and engagement with the government.
He highlighted several policies and programmes his Ministry is implementing to support the development of SMEs through capacity building and access to finance.
Acting Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Ibrahim Stevens, alluded to the challenges highlighted, especially the one relating to the exchange rate and assured them of a short-term solution of removing all the obstacles and bottlenecks around accessing forex.
He spoke about the interventions of the Bank of Sierra Leone in supporting the importation of essential commodities during and after the COVID pandemic.
Minister of Finance, Sheku A.F Bangura, stated that the Government is considering easing the restrictions on trading forex.
He further stated that at this critical moment, the Government wants to stabilise the exchange rate to allow business people to predict and plan their businesses and forecast.
The minister also appealed to all present to collaborate to improve the situation further reiterating the commitment of the government to turning around the current situation.
Also, Minister of Finance, Sheku Bangura, hosted the President and cross-section of the West Africa Banker’s Association (WABA) in a courtesy meeting.
According to the President of WABA, Dr Guy Laurent Fonjo, Managing Director and CEO of Afriland First Bank in Guinea, they are here to share their vision and strategic plan with the Minister of finance and other senior Government officials.
He noted that the Executive is trying to revitalize the Association to make it more visible in member countries and also critical to be part of the formulation and implementation of key policies in the region. Minister Bangura thanked them for the meeting and assured them of his support.