By Ragan M. Conteh
Parliament yesterday Thursday 14th May, 2020 ratified five loan and credit agreements running into millions of United States (US) Dollars that would benefit thousands of Sierra Leoneans.
Members of Parliament ratified US$30,000,000.00 (Thirty Million United States Dollars) loan agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) and the Indian EXIM Bank for the development of the implementation of the Land and Infrastructure Development project for Torma Bum and Gbondapi.
Presenting the loan agreement, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Patricia Lavalie disclosed that she signed the agreement last October, 2019 on behalf of the country.
According to her, the project will finance Land Infrastructure Development in the country, including hydraulic water management system, irrigation and provision of tractors for agricultural purposes in the country.
The Deputy Minister furthered that the overall goal of the project is to achieve rice self-sufficiency, reduce rice importation by 20 percent annually, and to reduce poverty among those engage in the rice value chain.
Dr. Patricia Larvalie noted that the project would be improving irrigation system for 110 acres of riverine grassland in Torma Bum and Gbondapi areas linking over 150,000 smallholders’ farmers with large-scale private sector rice production, improving rice output per unit area for at least 5 tons/acres from the Torma Bum and Gbondapi rice fields.
She told the lawmakers that the project has various components, including land and infrastructure development, production support, processing, storage and marketing and capacity building and management.
The Deputy Minister of Finance also dilated on the 0.50% commitment charge which she said would be levied on the disbursement loan balance annually, adding that it will begin to accrue 120 days after signing of the loan agreement and be payable on payment date. The 1.05, she informed, shall be charged as interest which would be payable.
Dr. Patricia Lavalie said the duration of the loan is 25 years with a grace period of 5 years commencing on the date of signing the agreement.
In a similar development, the Minister informed that a project for revamping of aquatic environment in the Greater Freetown Project between Kuwait Fund for Arab Development and the Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC) is geared towards improving the water supply system in the en tire Western Area and the provinces.
The Minister further disclosed that the Dollar Credit Financing agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) and Export-Import Bank of India dated 13th October, 2019 has also been ratified and is aimed at improving the country’s currency and to help boost the national economy.
Dr. Patricia Larvalie further disclosed that the Framework Agreement for Project of Investment between the GoSL and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (ABEDA) dated 17th November, 2019 would also bring enormous benefits to the country.
After careful explanation of the importance of the loan agreement, Members of Parliament on both sides graciously approve the agreement.
By Ragan M. Conteh