IMF agrees new loan program for Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s economy was battered by an Ebola epidemic and falling commodity prices. (Shutterstock)
Updated 01 December 2018
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IMF agrees new loan program for Sierra Leone

FREETOWN: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board has approved a new $172 million loan program for Sierra Leone to help the West African country combat rising inflation and lacklustre economic growth.
The 43-month agreement follows a previous $240 million financing plan that was suspended in February over foot-dragging on reforms such as taxing luxury car imports, and removing subsidies on fuel and rice.
“The objectives of the previous program remain appropriate, but circumstances call for a recalibration,” the IMF said in statement.
“The main objectives of the current program are to safeguard macroeconomic stability, deepen structural reforms, and advance the country’s education for development and poverty reduction agendas.”
After recovering from a civil war ending in 2002, the country saw impressive growth but its economy was then battered by an Ebola epidemic and falling commodity prices. Economic growth has declined from 6.3 percent in 2016 to an estimated 3.75 percent this year.
The IMF has reclassified Sierra Leone as a “high risk” for debt distress as a result of the economic slowdown.
“The economic environment remains challenging, with output growth still recovering from the recent loss in iron ore mining and reduced activity in the non-mining sectors,” IMF representative Brian Aitken said during a visit to Sierra Leone in October.


Dubai schools allowed to raise fees after last year’s freeze hit GEMS listing

Updated 11 min 16 sec ago
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Dubai schools allowed to raise fees after last year’s freeze hit GEMS listing

  • UAE authorities fixed the fees in hopes of stimulating the economy
  • The maximum increase for next year will be 2.07 percent for 90 percent of the schools

DUBAI: Dubai will allow a modest increase in school fees for the majority of students in the 2019-2020 academic year, the government said, after last year’s freeze triggered a delay in the London listing of a major school operator.
The move is likely to provide some reprieve for private investors such as private equity firms, who own most of the schools in the country, a Gulf Arab state that acts as a Middle East hub for international companies.
Last year’s move to freeze Dubai school had hit the initial public offering of Blackstone-backed, Middle East-focused education company GEMS, Reuters had reported, citing sources. The London listing was delayed after authorities in Dubai unexpectedly decided to freeze tuition fees, meaning the company’s financial forecasts had to be adjusted, they said.
Dubai’s move last year to freeze school fees came amid a number of other measures to cut costs in a bid to stimulate the economy that has been hurt by a downturn in property prices.
The Dubai government said it will allow an increase in school fees for 90 percent of students by a maximum 2.07 percent from the 2019-2020 academic year.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the crown prince and son of Dubai’s ruler, approved the new framework where the Dubai School Inspection Bureau will assess the quality of education in each school against its index and rank them accordingly.
Schools in which the quality of education is declining according to the government’s index will not be allowed to increase their fees.
Only 10 percent of the students in Dubai will have their fees increased by more than 2.07 percent, it said.