At their annual Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) Governor’s Dinner, it was announced that in the celebration of the country’s 60th Independence anniversary in 2021, the bank plans to introduce redesigned bank notes.
These notes will bear the image of Presidents spanning the last two decades in the following denomination of Le 5,000 which will bear the portrait of the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and the Le 10,000 will also bear the portrait of President Ernest Bai Koroma.
At the Dinner which was hosted at the Bintumani Conference Centre last Friday 2nd February, in honour of his decade long national service the Bank Governor and deputy presented President Koroma for the first time with a schematic of the Le 10,000 bank note bearing his portrait.
In his response, President Koroma said that he felt honoured by the BSL plans to use their portraits as the new bank notes with the intention of having it introduced during the country’s Independence anniversary.
“I will be well into my retirement, and I hope that as you launch those notes I will be able and healthy enough to be part of the ceremony, President Kabbah is not with us, let us hope and pray that I am still around to represent both of us” he smiled.
Commenting on the issue of the day, the President said that he is assuring all of the financial institutions and the business community people at the dinner that government is assured of conducting a peaceful, free and fair election.
“We believe it’s fundamental to our economic growth, because with a successful election, Sierra Leone will be transformed to the league of nations that are considered to be democratically matured” he said.
He stated that the country has had elections and transitions in the past from one leader to another, “this is also going to be a transition from me to somebody else from any political party” adding that “but whilst we effect that transition I still have a responsibility to ensure that we maintain law and order.” And that at the end of the electoral activity “the outcome will be a reflection of the will of the people of Sierra Leone. And it will attract a lot more foreign direct investment than we have ever seen” he hoped.
President Koroma commended the Governor for his fairness in outlining the banks policies and program in the coming year, “the expectation is that the President should react in outlining government policies, I believe that, I should not be saying anything this night as in few weeks I will be out of office’ he said.
On the specific issues that has to do with the general issues about Banking, the President said that succeeding governments should adhere to sound financial policies that will help create a vibrant financial sector that is critical in accelerating the growth of the economy.
As a President he said that over the last ten years he has always been looking forward to the Dinner, “it has a rich menu of policies that supports the effectiveness of our micro financial policies, I am fascinated by the theme of this year’s Governor’s speech.”
The speech he said sheds light on important sectors of the economy “our informal sector, it emphasizes the need for our people that operates in this sector to migrate to the formal sector,” to ensure that we are all guaranteed of sustainable growth of our economy and equal distribution of the country’s wealth. A lot of people are not using the formal sector” said President Koroma.
The theme for this year’s dinner was ‘Promoting Inclusive Growth through Financial Inclusion’. The Governor in his address spoke about the initiatives of what the central bank has put together with revealing statistics and assured everyone that the financial system is safe.
In 2018, growth he said is expected to rebound to 6.1 per cent, to be driven mainly by recovery in key sectors of the economy and complemented by strong global growth. Growth prospects in the medium-term are positive as GDP growth is expected to average 7.0 per cent, while inflation is expected to converge to a single digit. The external sector is expected to remain benign with strong global growth outlook.
He said that there was a build-up in domestic prices during the second half of 2016, which continued into the first quarter of 2017, with headline inflation reaching its peak at 20.2 per cent in March 2017.
This increase he went on to say was driven mainly by food inflation and the lag effects of the depreciation of the exchange rate. However, in the second-half of 2017, inflationary pressures eased, with headline inflation declining consistently from 19.1 per cent in June 2017 to 16.26 per cent in November 2017. “Though inflation was trending downwards, the gap between the end year inflation target and actual outturn was significant and there were potential risks of inflationary pressures emanating from both the domestic and international environments.