Friday, October 26, 2007

Finance Minister scores first success as IFC to open office in SaLone

Finance Minister-David Carew

The newly sworn in Finance Minister David Carew who is currently in Washington attending a World Bank meeting, Monday 22nd October signed an agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to open an “an IFC representative and program office in the country.
This was disclosed in a press release issued by the organization Monday.
The IFC is an important member of the World Bank group which has been providing vital funding for private sector investments and the opening of the office “paves the way for IFC to expand its activities that promote Sierra Leone’s private sector, helping create opportunities and reduce poverty.”
“In June, IFC invested $25 million in Celtel Sierra Leone and mobilized a further $25 million from other investors to help the company expand and upgrade its fast-growing mobile networks in the country,” the World Bank press release revealed.
Furthermore “Under its Global Trade Finance Program, IFC in March signed agreements to issue guarantees against the underlying trade transactions of three of the country’s leading banks—Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Rokel Commercial Bank, and Guaranty Trust Bank. The agreements will cover the banks’ payment risks and help increase Sierra Leone’s share of global trade.”
“There is a critical need for IFC to become more involved in conflict-affected countries such as Sierra Leone,” said Jyrki Koskelo, IFC Vice President for Africa and Global Financial Markets.
According to the agreement, “IFC will also house the Sierra Leone Business Forum, an IFC-supported program that aims to foster dialogue between the government and private sector and identify public policies to attract private investment to the country. The goal is to make Sierra Leone a more attractive investment destination and an easier place to do business.”
Jyrki Koskelo, IFC Vice President for Africa and Global Financial Markets noted further that “The government has recently implemented a number of crucial reforms, allowing IFC to become more involved in fostering a vibrant private sector.”
He added. “IFC is committed to working with the government to promote economic recovery.”
IFC’s activities in Sierra Leone, the release states “are conducted through its crisis-affected countries initiative for Africa.”
“Several programs are already moving ahead under the initiative. Working with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the IFC–World Bank Investment Climate team for Africa is advising Sierra Leone’s government on reforms to improve the country’s investment environment and remove obstacles to private sector development. The program has already had a number of successes, including simplifying customs procedures and easing tax hurdles and other regulatory barriers to private sector activity,” the release stated.

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