Governor Assures Banking Standards
Sierra Leone has developed a strong financial services sector which managed to weather the global financial crisis and is now building on the country’s stable macroeconomic fundamentals as the financial sector is dominated by banking, which accounts for 95% of the sector’s assets.
This was made known by the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Mr. Sheku Sambadeen Sesay (in photo) in an exclusive interview with this medium recently.
He added that the country has thirteen (13) Commercial Banks of which ten (10) are foreign: six (6) Nigerian Banks while others from the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Togo as additional banks have received licenses to begin operations soon.
Sheku Sesay also stated that depreciation of the Leone against major currencies and the widening of Government budget deficit were among the major challenges to the bank and Government in 2009 as a result of the global crisis adding, “despite the challenges, the economy showed remarkable resilience during the years, with steady progress in maintaining a stable microeconomic environment and positive growth.”
Sheku Sesay further stated that the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) has endured world class standards in the financial sector and is rapidly upgrading its own operations and services as the microeconomic performance from 2008-2012 recorded strong economic growth.
He also revealed that non-iron and real GDP growth averaged 5.2% during 2008-2012, driven mainly by increased activities in agriculture, mining that commenced in the fourth quarter of 2011 stressing that these underpinned the significant growth in GDP in 2012 estimated at 15.2%.
The Governor reiterated that the GDP growth averaged 8.2% and that stakeholders such as the stewards of the minerals sector must start concentrating on daily objective rather than on personal aspirations by being proactive and supportive on the trends to combat the challenging global economic environment.
According to Mr. Sheku Sesay, in order to be classified as a middle-income country within 25 years, considering expected levels of activity in the mining sector, it is anticipated to reach its target and being a middle income country though requires progress, rapid GDP growth beyond measures of value and income.
He went on to underscore, “we need to make equally significant human development, including health, food security and education for the medium term macroeconomic drive. Furthermore, Government, with assistance from development partners, should design appropriate policies to address the changes likely to be posed by the large inflow of mineral resource revenues to achieve a stable macroeconomic environment.”
The Governor also enlightened that the state must enhance the fiscal policy, domestic revenue mobilization, expenditure management, monthly policy, to name but a few and should aim at creating a modern, effective and dynamic Central Bank that serves the overall financial growth and development requirements of Sierra Leone within the framework of a harmonized sub-regional financial system and consistent with the demands of a globalized economic and financial environment.
He continued that despite progress made in recent years in establishing the economic environment, significant challenges remain which may jeopardize macroeconomic stability in the medium term such as the relatively undiversified structure of the economy.
Mr. Sesay went on to assert that the country should diversify into other growth promotion and employment-creating sectors such as fisheries, tourism and manufacturing and pointed out that insufficient GDP growth creates external shocks in the form of high international prices of food and fuel.
He clarified that domestic prices have contributed to higher inflationary pressures most recently fluctuation in commodity prices and concluded that the public awaits the implementation of various infrastructure, ICT improvement and human capital development in the banking sector through the establishment of a National Banking College in 2014.
By Joseph Saidu N’Bompa Turay
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