Sierra Leone: Parliament Ratifies U.S.$57 Million Water and Agriculture Loan Agreements

Members of Parliament yesterday ratified an amount of $57million loan agreements in order to boost the agriculture and water sectors.

They also ratified financial inclusion agreement geared towards the financial connectivity among financial institutions across the country.

The agreements includes : loan agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the African Development Fund on the Freetown Wash and Aquatic Environment Revamping project, Protocol of agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the African Development Fund on the Freetown Wash and Aquatic Environment Revamping project dated 18th January 2018, subsidiary grant and loan agreements between the Government of Sierra Leone represented by the Ministry of Finance and Guma Valley Water Company dated 29th March, 2019 respectively.

Members also ratified financing agreement on Rural Finance and Community improvement Program-Phase II between the Government and International Fund for Agricultural Development dated 22nd November, 2018 and financing agreement-Agriculture Value Chain Development Project dated 1st January 2019.

They further ratified financing agreement on the financial inclusion project between the Government and the International Development Association dated 27th February 2019 and Protocol of Agreement amongst the government, the African Development Bank and the African Development Fund as Administrators of the transition support facility for the fiscal consolidation support programme dated 29th April,2019.

According to the Deputy Minister of Finance, Patricia Lavaley, they wanted to improve on the accessibility of water supply in the municipality and sanitation across the country.

She said over 50,000 water meters will be provided, 7 existing reservoirs rehabilitated, and 120 public taps constructed.

The deputy minister said the project would help improve the capacity and livelihood of people and promote women and youth issues.

She said it will help develop how solid waste could be controlled.

She further disclosed that the African Development Bank has provided an amount of $14.1, adding that the ministry has consulted the Islamic Development Bank and other donors to support the water sector.

Madam Lavaley said they wanted to help provide community banking as agriculture is the mainstream of the country's economy, and that such could only be achieved when loans are given to farmers.

She said they wanted to make sure that more community banks were established and for more farmers to access loans and to manage those loans effectively and efficiently.

She noted that the financial inclusion project will help connect all the banks to work and talk to each other, thus urging the House to ratify the agreements.

In his contribution, Hon. Musa Fofanah representing the opposition Coalition for Change (C4C) party, called for the immediate redress of the constraints faced by Guma Valley Water Company, the Ministries of Land and Agriculture, the Environment Protection Agency, LAWYERS and landowners, as there has been reported cases massive encroachment.

He said since allocations have been provided for sustainable treatment plan, there was need to sustain the dam that is currently providing water for the city or else, they will continue to encounter challenges and that shortage of water will continue.

He mentioned that the Sewa River is enough to provide water for the people of Kono only if attention was given to it.

Also, Hon. Daniel B. Koroma of the All People's Congress (APC) said the Minister of Finance in one of his submission in Parliament had stated that Guma Valley is a non-profit making institution, probing that how the company will repay the loan since it is not making profit.

He said the government and other private individuals owe the company huge sum of money for water rate, but failing to pay those debts.

"If Gumais not making profit, how could they repay this loan or who will pay for them? he questioned.

He urged that attention should be given to the River Rokel for the supply of safe drinking water across the municipality, adding that it will be to the greatest failure of the said project if Rokel river is not visited.

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