13 December 2013

Sierra Leone: IMF Cautions Local Content Policy Implementation

Resident Representative ofthe International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Sierra Leone has told a group of policy-makers and the media that the newly introduced Local Content Policy is a model document that should be strategically implemented to avoid a stalemate in private sector investment.

Dr. FrancisY. Kumah sounded the note of caution while responding to a question regarding the Local Content Policy during a one-day IMF seminar held under the topics: "Fall 2013 regional economic outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa" and the "New IMF extended credit facility for Sierra Leone". The session was hosted yesterday at the Bank of Sierra Leone conference hall, Sam Bangura building in Freetown.

The introduction of the Local Content Policy in Sierra Leone arose following series of heated debates among some Sierra Leoneans who were vehemently advocating for its formulation and swift implementation in the interest of Sierra Leoneans. Arguments were that Sierra Leonean resources were not impacting the lives of ordinary citizens and that employment opportunities,especially in the mining companies, were largely meant for foreigners.

London Mining and Bollore African Logistics were heavily targeted by the Indigenous Transport Owners who were advocating that the contract for the transportation of the ore from the Marampa site to the harbour be awarded to local transporters. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara, was strongly pushing for the implementation of the policy through engagements with private investors.

However, the IMF Country Representative cited countries like Saudi Arabia, among others, where the Local Content Policy was introduced and strategically implemented with the economy being maintained in a better position.

"The Local Content Policy should not be implemented in a rush. It is a very good document that should be strategically implemented to avoid a stalemate in private sector investment," Dr. Kumah warned.

He further observed that the private sector is the engine of economic growth and that government should ensure effective communication with the citizens so as to enhance economic stability.

Many other issues were discussed at the seminar with presentations on various topics including the 'State of the Sierra Leone Economy and Relations with the International Monetary Fund', and Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa', among others.

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