Ebola-free Sierra Leone receives IMF recovery funds

17 Nov 15

The International Monetary Fund has approved a $46.14m disbursement to Sierra Leone as it recovers from the Ebola outbreak.

The World Health Organisation declared the west African country Ebola-free on 7 November, after an outbreak that cost 4,000 people their lives and the country around $150m, according to World Bank estimates.

Min Zhu, deputy managing director and acting chair of the IMF’s executive board, said with the virus finally gone the country now faces the “difficult challenge of economic recovery”.

He said: “The fiscal challenges in 2016 will be substantial. It will be critical for the authorities to ensure sufficient revenues and financing to cover priority spending. This will require strong moves on tax policies and continued efforts on tax administration.

“Containing the wage bill will also be critical to increase the resources available for the post-Ebola economic recovery strategy, which will be strengthened by enhancing the transparency and efficiency of expenditures.”

He added that, while the country’s risk of debt distress is moderate, it is increasingly vulnerable to further shocks. Borrowing policies should therefore “remain prudent in view of the narrow export base and fragile fiscal position” and financing needs should continue to be covered mostly with grants and concessional loads, especially for investment projects.

The IMF agreed to provide Sierra Leone with a total of around $95.9m in 2013 under its extended credit facility, which provides medium-term financial support to low-income countries.

After completing the third and fourth reviews of the country’s performance over the last three years, the fund approved changes to Sierra Leone’s access to almost half of the money ‒ approximately $64.59, to be disbursed in three tranches.

The first tranche of this, equal to around $21.53m, will be included in the disbursement enabled immediately upon completion of the third and fourth country reviews. Altogether this will equal $46.41m.

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