$156M Quick Action Economic Response Launched

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The government through the Ministry of Finance has at the Ministry’s Conference Room on George Street in Freetown launched One Hundred and Fifty-Six Millions United States Dollars ($156M) for Quick Action Economic Response Programme (QAERP).

The overall objective of QAERP is to maintain macro-economic and financial stability and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 shock on businesses, households.

This will be complemented by the dedicated COVID-19 prevention and response health plan.

Speaking at the programme, the Chief Economist in the Ministry of Finance, Alimamy Bangura disclosed since the cumulative impact of the COVID-19 will adversely affect the effective implementation of the country’s Medium Term National Development Plan and the 2020 budget, it was against this background government has developed QAERP.

He said that the objectives of the programme includes building and maintaining an adequate stock level of essential commodities at stable prices; providing support to hardest-hit businesses to enable them to continue operations, avert lay-offs of employees and reduce non-performing loans; providing safety nets to vulnerable groups; supporting labour-based public works and providing assistance for the local production and processing of staple food items.

According to him, the Ministry of Finance with support from the IMF has re-evaluated the country macro-economic indicators as the GDP growth has been revised downwards from a predicated 4.2% to -3.1%.

He said the domestic revenue is expected to fall by 15% and expenditures expected to increase by additional Le1 trillion stressing that worsening of the country’s balance of payments position is also expected.

He added that the government has already started rolling out the programme to cushion the impact of the pandemic on people and businesses in the country.

He said the stipulated amount for QAERP will be largely funded by government and also with support from its development partners including IMF, World Bank, ADB among others.