It was graced by representative from World Bank, European Union, Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, Africa Development Bank among several other stakeholders.
In his opening statement the Minister of Finance Jacob Jusu Saffa said Regional Economic Outlook (REO) is one of the key flagship publications by the IMF; given the prominence of the publication and the launching of the latest IMF publication.
According to the Minister, REO is published twice every year, in April and October, by the African Department of the IMF, and complements the IMF’s World Economic Outlook and provides a comprehensive assessment of recent macro-economic development and the economic outlook across sub-Saharan Africa.
“Sub-Saharan African continues face critical challenges despite tremendous support from development partners including the IMF and World Bank Group; poverty remains intolerable high, the benefits of robust economic growth have not trickled down to the poor and many countries continue to be afflicted by conflict,” Mr. Saffa said.
He disclosed that, the IMF REO is projecting economic growth to increase from 2.8 percent in 2017 to 3.8 percent during 2018; noting that in order to translate this recovery into long term growth, countries must implement prudent fiscal policies to address growing public debt with appropriate monetary systems to contain inflation.
“We are currently facing significant challenges especially on the macroeconomic front; with domestic revenue collection very low when compared to other countries in the sub-region,” he added.
He went on to state that inflation is very high with serious implications for living conditions of the average Sierra Leonean. The Minister of Finance said: “our debt level is high amounting to over Le 16 trillion (58.4% of GDP) as at December, 2017; and our exchange rate has recently depreciated sharply.”
Making his presentation on Domestic Revenue Mobilization in sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. Philip Kargbo from NRA said any serious fiscal consolidation in contemporary times will not be complete without mentioning revenue mobilization because it is the way forward.
He disclosed that more revenues are required in more sub-Saharan African countries for several reasons. He noted that they are currently realizing a decline in development assistance which is referred to as foreign aid but because they are realizing a decline in foreign aid, the only thing that can potentially change the situation is for them to do more in terms of revenue collection.
He informed his audience that in the past couple of years following the conference held in Addis Ababa on development financing for achieving the SDGs, the messages included not depending on foreign aid to finance the SDGs but rather that African counties should generate domestic revenues.