State House, Freetown, Thursday 22 October 2020 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has engaged Chief Executives Officers and Managing Directors of all 14 commercial banks operating in the West African nation, as part of his inclusive approach to maximising private sector role in governance.
He said the meeting was to continue to demonstrate the government’s commitment to a consultative and participatory dialogue with all stakeholders. He observed that the banking sector was crucial to economic management, noting that commercial banks were the vehicles for financial flows.
President Bio further emphasised that the banks had been very supportive in the ecospace of economic management, particularly during the global pandemic caused by Covid-19, adding that he was calling on the banks to enhance corporate social responsibility to support the flagship free quality education programme, which had started yielding good results.
President of Commercial Bank Association and Managing Director at Ecobank, Ms Aina Moore, commended the President for taking the exceptional step to initiate a dialogue with the banks.
The Gambian born and Fourah Bay College trained also remarked that that was probably the first time a President of Sierra Leone had invited all commercial banks to dialogue on issues around the economy and requested them to mutually address the critical issues facing the banking sector.
“We are aware of the need to work together and to support you by providing the enabling environment for economic activities,” she said.
Other CEOs commended the government and the actions taken to address the human and economic challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They also praise the proactive action by the government to develop and implement the Quick Action Economic Recovery Programme, which resulted in the Central Bank of Sierra Leone making available some $50 million at an interest rate less than 10% to businesses.
The core objectives were to build and maintain an adequate stock level of essential commodities at stable prices; provide support to hardest-hit businesses to enable them to continue operations, avert lay-offs of employees and reduce non-performing loans; provide safety nets to vulnerable groups; support labour-based public works and provide assistance for the local production and processing of staple food items.
The CEOs and MDs also noted that while the full effect of the Covid-19 on the economy, and in particular the banking sector, was yet to be determined, the government had handled the response through the health strengthening programme and the economic actions much better than other countries had done around the world.
They reiterated their commitment to jointly working with the government to address challenging issues affecting the banking sector ton include but not limited to foreign exchange, credit quality, lending, financial inclusion and support to the growth sectors.
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