(c) Strategic Communications Unit,
Ministry of Information and Communications
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a cumulative impact on both great and small economies of the world, undermining countries’ national development plans. COVID19’s shock on West African economies, for example, has come in three waves: (i) Lower trade and investment from China (ii) Demand slump associated with lockdowns in European Union and OECD countries and (iii) Continental supply shock affecting domestic and intra-African trade.
In his Quick Action Economic Response Program (QAERP), President Bio’s government has successfully initiated policy measures to cushion income and job losses, while tackling the specific challenges of high informality.
In a similar vein, the President’s administration has delivered a scheme through commercial lenders which will assist primarily small and medium businesses to access lower interest bank lending.
In addition, the President had announced measures to strengthen the safety net by providing direct cash transfer to the most vulnerable communities across the country.
The following are some of the major dividends of QAERP:
#- Unlike some countries, in the midst of the steady spread of corona virus pandemic which is devastating lives and crushing economies, the President is hugely committed to the welfare of Sierra Leoneans: salaries are paid and on time.
Government recruitment program in creating jobs across the country is still taking place with the expected salaries reflecting the current inflation rate such as the recent teachers’ salary increment. This underlines the sustained efforts of the President in addressing the plights and concerns of Sierra Leoneans.
#- Through the QAERP, the President is ensuring that food stocks are abundantly available in the country. And other essential commodities are easily accessible and affordable with the Bank of Sierra Leone having provided SLL 500 billion or $ 50M to importers to enable them import as much essential commodities as possible into the country.
#- Through the Social Safety Net, NaCSA is reaching out to 29, 000 beneficiaries across the country with COVID-19 emergency cash transfers, and other social services to vulnerable communities. This is positively impacting the lives of many Sierra Leoneans with funds provided by the Government of Sierra Leone and the World Bank.
#- Through the QAERP, the Bank of Sierra Leone is providing loans to businesses manufacturing local foodstuffs at reasonable interest rate as a huge boost to production, importation and distribution of frequently consumed products in the country.
#- To as well prevent the collapse of businesses and the attendant effect of laying off of workers due to COVID-19, NRA has given tax deferment to importers and local manufacturers to the sum of $30 million. This is helping businesses and importers have easy flow of essential commodities.
President Bio remains hugely committed to addressing the aspirations and concerns of Sierra Leoneans even in difficult circumstances.
Leadership is about servanthood and always being on hands in responding to the needs of the people. President Bio is well focussed on this and he will never abandon or neglect the concerns of his people no matter how difficult the situation we may find ourselves in as a nation.