World Bank Country director signs USD52m with government of Sierra Leone for Energy and Public finance management projects
January 18, 2014 – Following the approval in December by the World Bank Board of Directors of the USD 40m Energy and USD12m for the Public Finance Management Improvement and consolidation Projects, the Sierra Leone Government through the Minister of Finance – Dr Kaifala Marah, and the World Bank Country Director for Sierra Leone- Mr. Yusupha Babatunde Crookes today signed the two agreements taking the final steps in making the projects effective. (Photo: Finance Minister signs with assistance by the bank’s legal Adviser as the CD countersign)
“Electricity reaches less than 10 percent of the population in Sierra Leone and its cost is one of the highest in the sub region. This sparse electricity coverage and unreliable service exacerbates poverty conditions among Sierra Leonean citizens, and frustrates productivity and competitiveness of firms”. Thus the Sierra Leone Government has launched an electricity reform effort that will establish two state owned enterprises, one to oversee electricity generation and transmission, and the other to manage electricity distribution and supply. “Such Energy Sector Utility Reform will help establish a solid management and organizational structure for the national electricity distribution utility while the Government’s electricity reform is underway”.
Today’s signing of the agreements will set the stage for the last steps for the release of the much needed multi million dollars credit from the International Development Association (IDA)* to help Sierra Leone reduce poverty and expand economic growth by establishing a strong national electricity distribution utility with better technical performance, financial viability, and improved electricity delivery to the country’s 6 million residents,
CM looks on avidly as the Finance Minister signs while the Ops Officer makes last minutes reviews in the background
“This energy project is extremely important for Sierra Leone’s transformation as there can be no development without electricity” said Yusupha Babatunde Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Sierra Leone. “This project’s focus on achieving efficiency and stability in electricity delivery will boost access to social services, improve health and education, and help establish new economic opportunities throughout Sierra Leone.”
On the Public Finance Management project, the Country Director said, fiscal discipline is very crucial in ensuring effective implementation of projects; “we are encouraged by the leadership the Finance Ministry has shown and we are optimistic that these projects will be fully and effectively implemented”.
Dr. Kaifala Marah agreed that “electricity is the backbone to development and the government is committed to providing uninterrupted electricity supply by 2017 especially in the city and regional headquarters”. The Minister of Finance also acknowledged that “prosperity comes with discipline” and assured the World Tank team that the funding will be properly utilized.
Country Director Discuss Bank Operations with the Media
In another development, the Executives of the World Bank Group in Sierra Leone today engaged with senior members of the Media on the World Bank Operations in the country. Although the discussion focused on the agreement signed this morning by the government through the Minister of Finance, and by the World Bank through the Country Director for the USD40m Energy and the USD12m Public Finance Management Improvement and Consolidation projects, questions persisted around the USD31m West Africa Regional Communication Infrastructure Project which landed the fiber optic.
The Country Director Yusupha Babatunde Crookes emphasized that there is a strong partnership between the World Bank and the government which has delivered impressively on many of the projects. “Because of this success, there is over USD180m for sierra Leone from IDA over the next three years”. Mr. Crookes however acknowledged that there are hiccups with the fiber optic project but added that the World Bank is in conversation with the government regarding adherence to the agreement which formed the basis of the funding in the first place. “We signed an agreement based on research and mutual conviction that liberalizing the international gateway is the best option in broadening the internet coverage and lowering the prices”. The World Bank Director said. Mr. Crookes added that “there are provisions and mechanisms for the modification of projects if the need arises but so far, we have not received any official communication in this regard; so let’s wait and see”.
Concerns about the role of the World Bank in effective monitoring of projects were addressed by the Country Manager Mr. Francis Ato-Brown: “projects are owned and implemented by the government with support by the World Bank”, the Country Manager said. Ato-Brown explained that as part of that support, technical experts and other relevant professionals both in the country office and from other regions make regular field visit sometimes jointly with government/project management officials to take stock of the implementation progress, identify lapses and provide remedies as, when and where necessary. The Country Manager also re-echoed the Mr. Crookes statement “that there are challenges in project implementation but largely progress is being made”
The Country Representative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC)- the private sector member of the World Bank Group- Mary Agboli also had her own dose of questions handle on IFC’s role in supporting the private sector. According to Mary Agboli, IFC provides advisory and lending services to the private sector. “We have been involved with the setting up of the Business Forum, Tax Administration Systems, Sierra Leone Export and Investment Promotion Agency, Credit Bureau etc; and we have supported businesses in the mining, telecommunications, banking and other sectors”. The IFC Country Representative also had to clarify the Corporation’s role in the investment of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) in the Cape Sierra Hotel which she said was to assist the NASSIT to identify contractors for the work on Hotel and once that was achieved the Corporation’s work ended.
The World Bank Group in Sierra Leone has expressed its desire for continued collaboration with all stakeholders in Sierra Leone regarding its operations in the country.
“IFC has been involved with the setting up of the Business Forum, Tax Administration system, Sierra Leone Investment and Promotion Agency, Business Registration, Credit Bereau etc and has also support businesses in telcoms, banking, mining and many more sectors”, Madam Agboli added.
The world bank has expressed its desire to continuos engaged with all stakeholders in Sierra Leone regarding its operations in Sierra Leone has encouraged the media to rise up to the challenge in ensuring efective implementation of projects.
World Bank Organization
Stay with Sierra Express Media, for your trusted place in news!
© 2014, https:. All rights reserved.