The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has set up a Quick Action Economic Response Programme (QAERP) in response to the COVID-19 crisis. A first dialogue was held in April with participants from key government ministries and agencies. The private sector was represented by business membership organisations, including the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (SLCCIA) and importers of essential commodities, logistics companies, commercial banks and fuel companies.
The results of a survey of businesses across a number of sectors, carried out by Invest Salone in April 2020, was presented during the meeting. The survey showed that over 70% of businesses expected sales to fall in the coming months with over 90% expecting the pandemic to adversely affect their business. Only 40% were aware of the government’s intervention packages, such as tax deferments, special loans and credit facilities.
There was encouragement from the Minister of Trade and Industry for the private sector to make best use of the Bank of Sierra Leone facility, which recently announced a Le500bn stimulus package to support the production, procurement and distribution of essential goods and services. The measure initiated by the Bank is to give low interest loans to the private sector for the importation of essential commodities during the COVID-19 emergency response. In light of the COVID-19 situation, a number of measures were agreed at the meeting. To read more about these measures, see our Report on the QAERP Private Sector Platform’s Inaugural Virtual Public–Private Dialogue.