Thursday, February 15, 2007

IMF sees encouraging growth in Sierra Leone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Economic prospects for Sierra Leone are "encouraging" with mining operations and mineral exports rising and services growth picking up, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

In its annual economic review of the West African state, the IMF said growth is likely to stabilize between 6.0 to 7.0 percent during 2006 and 2010.

It said inflation would likely converge to single digits by the end of 2007, while the current account deficit would narrow, boosted by gold exports.

The projected strong and broad-based growth will, however, still have little impact in reducing poverty, particularly in rural areas, the IMF said.

"Poverty-reducing efforts have yet to make notable progress," the Fund said.

The Fund urged the international community to maintain its support for reconstruction of the country recovering from an 11-year civil war.

Paris Club creditors last month wrote off all of Sierra Leone's outstanding $218 million debt and the IMF urged non-Paris Club nations to do the same.