IMF bailout for Sierra Leone as economic costs of Ebola mounts

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 September 2014

president koroma1The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said yesterday, that the economic cost of the Ebola crisis to Sierra Leone for the next two years, could run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

The IMF report estimates that for 2014, the total impact of the epidemic on the government’s budget could stand at about US$82 million (1.7 percent of non-iron ore GDP), with expenditure pressures likely to continue into 2015, particularly for higher social spending and incentive measures for health workers and farmers.

And the financial downturn will continue well into 2015, for which the IMF estimates its impact, in the sum of US$132 million (2.3 percent of non-iron ore GDP), comprising 1.6 percent of revenue loss and 0.7 percent of additional expenditure.

This adverse pressure on the government’s finances is already being felt, as the government defaults on the payment of its bills, public sector workers’ salaries and contractors’ fees.

With 26 ministers running the country, questions must be asked as to what those ministers have been doing in the last six months, as Sierra Leone is now seriously paralysed by Ebola. Critics say the government is overbloated and needs purging to trim spending.

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Is China’s Ebola pact with Sierra Leone at odds with the British Ebola Action Plan?

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 September 2014

union jackOn the 23rd September, the British government published what it calls an ‘international call for assistance to combat ebola from the governments of Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom’.

But a day before that publication, the government of Sierra Leone had also signed what critics are referring to as a ‘duplicitous and shady pact’ with the Chinese to tackle Ebola.

china communist partyAlthough very little is known about the signed protocol agreement with the Chinese, observers in Freetown believe that it includes a ‘non-disclosure clause’ that is binding on both the government of Sierra Leone and the Chinese team working on the ground.

The secretive nature of the signed protocol has raised serious questions about the intentions of the Chinese, their modus operandi in delivering treatment, as well as their handling of Ebola patient case management in Sierra Leone.

Also, there are suspicions the Chinese will be carrying out research into the development of new drugs and treatment, without publishing or sharing the results with the government and local medical staff,  who are in desperate need of that knowledge to aid their understanding and learning.

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British – Sierra Leone Ebola Joint Action Plan

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 September 2014

africa minerals railwayLast week’s UN General Assembly Session in New York, presented perhaps one last great opportunity, for the international community to get a grip on the Ebola crisis, that is now poised to destroying the social and economic fabric of West Africa, if not the entire continent.

If the world does not wake up to the unfolding crisis in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, and put a UN driven, global partnership framework of support in place to tackle the virus now, there will be another global economic recession – the likes of which, has never been experienced.

But it seems world leaders speaking at the UN General Assembly last week, may have finally got the message.

The UN Chief Bank Ki Moon said; ‘The UN Ebola Emergency Response Mission has begun to deploy in Ghana. It’s time for the international community to help the three countries step up in the fight against Ebola. Now is the time for a concerted effort to stop this disease.’

In response, the British Prime Minister said; ‘The UK stands ready to support the UN mission to avoid duplication,’ as Britain and Sierra Leone agreed a Joint Action Plan that empowers the UK government to take the lead in managing the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.

But how will the Plan be implemented?

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World Bank to double Ebola funding to $400 Million

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 September 2014

London MiningThe cost of fighting the deadly Ebola in West Africa could exceed $1 billion, which the three countries in the sub-region whose economies are being savaged by the disease, can ill afford.

Average annual GDP growth for the next three consecutive years at least, may not exceed 3% for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia respectively.

In Sierra Leone, with mining forming the backbone of the economy, the extraction of minerals has continued throughout this crisis, but production levels are thought to have fallen by at least 40%.

And so too, for agriculture production, which in the north and south of the country has suffered massively, as farming output and productivity falls.

Last week, Sierra Leone’s finance minister accused the WHO of sitting on $300 million of funding meant to support the Ebola campaign in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

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IMF – $130 Million revenue support for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 September 2014

Lagarde video“Large-scale and well-coordinated assistance by the international community is urgently needed to support the national authorities’ efforts to contain the devastating impact of the disease,” said Christine Lagarde of the IMF yesterday, adding weight to calls for the presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to give way to the UN to take over responsibility for managing the crisis.

The impact of the Ebola crisis on the economies of West Africa is now seriously affecting the taxation base and revenue streams of the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

With some of the key industries witnessing a drop in production and export of more than 50%, it is highly unlikely that governments are going to be able to meet their essential budgetary and spending commitments for the rest of 2014 and 2015.

The public sector in all three countries, accounts for the highest number of employees, and hence wage and salary payment to government workers has reached critical levels.

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President Koroma’s shopping list to the UN

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 September 2014

President Koroma - 2013Yesterday president Koroma addressed the special session of the UN General Assembly on Ebola – live from the offices of the World Bank in Freetown. He called on the international community to do more to help save lives in Sierra Leone.

He fell far short of calling on the UN to come to Sierra Leone and put in place a robust, concerted and coordinated approach to tackling the virus, not only in Sierra Leone, but across the West African sub-continent.

And critics would no doubt see this as a serious lapse of judgement and a failing on the part of the president, who is refusing to accept that after six months of fighting the Ebola virus with all that the nation has – along with the enormous support of the various health agencies on the ground, the virus is just as virulent today as it began in March, if not more destructive.

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