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Sierra Leone government launches Covid-19 Economic Response Programme

19 May 2020 at 16:28 | 1246 views

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The Government of Sierra Leone has on Monday 18th May engaged journalists from both print and broadcast media on the Quick Action Economic Response Programme (QAERP) to respond to the impact of the Corona virus (Covid-19) on the country’s economy.

The overall goal of the programme is to maintain macro-economic and financial stability and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 shock on businesses and households.

The QAERP comprises of five objectives: (i) building and maintaining an adequate stock level of essential commodities at stable prices, (ii) providing support to the hardest-hit businesses to enable them to continue operations and avert lay-offs of employees, (iii) expand safety nets to vulnerable groups, (iv) Supporting labour-based public works and (v) providing assistance for the local production and processing of staple food items.

According to the Chief Economist at the Ministry of Finance Mr. Alimamy Bangura, the total cost of the QAERP is around one hundred and Thirty-six million United States Dollars and this excludes revenue lost.

The Minister of Finance Mr Jacob Jusu Saffa (photo) said that economic Management is on a positive trajectory and Sierra Leone is on course, noting that had Sierra Leone not been on course the economy should have collapsed, adding that the most recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) review came out very positive as Sierra Leone passed all of the indicators.

“I will proudly tell you that we are going to access substantial grant resources; though it cannot be substantial to take care of everybody. I am of the opinion that Sierra Leone will surpass the IMF projected growth rate,” he said.

He said the government has done quite a lot to boost the agricultural sector in order not to miss the planting season.

“The Quick Action Economic Response Programme (QAERP) is a ‘bread and butter’ component. Take for instance the NaCSA safety nets. When we have a lockdown the less privileged especially the disabled benefitted and we are trying to scale up that,” he pointed out.

He said all the five components of the QAERP are ‘bread and butter’ related.

During the engagement, the Central Bank Governor Prof. Kelfala Kallon talked about the Bank’s intervention in the programme like supporting private sector access resources and forex they need to operate and import essential commodities.

The Minister of Trade Dr Hinga Sandi assured the business community of the measures government is taking to ensure that businesses are done effectively.

The National Revenue Authority (NRA) Commissioner General Dr Samuel Gbao talked about the measures put in place by the government in order not to unleash undue pressure on business people, while the Deputy Minister ll of Agriculture Dr Abdulai Karim talked about the availability of food regardless of the COVID-19.

NaCSA Commissioner Abubakarr Kokofele talked about the safety nets scheme that is being implemented by the government.

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