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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sierra Leone’s economic freedom

Sierra Leone’s economic freedom 

Score is 47.9, making its economy the 157th freest in the 2010 Index. Its score remains almost the same as last year. Sierra Leone is ranked 36th out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is below the global average.

Sierra Leone is still reconstructing in the aftermath of a decade-long civil conflict. Economic growth has been averaging about 6 percent over the past five years, but the challenges to maintaining growth momentum are considerable. The overall environment is not conducive to entrepreneurial activity, and the private sector faces significant constraints.

Mismanagement in public spending remains a serious problem and ultimately hurts implementation of necessary reforms. The protection of property rights is weak, and the judicial system lacks both independence and transparency. Legal proceedings are vulnerable to political interference and commonly subject to pervasive corruption. High tariffs and non-tariff barriers hinder trade.
Background Back to the top

Sierra Leone’s civil war, which seriously damaged the country’s infrastructure and economy, ended in 2002 with the help of African, British, and U.N. peacekeepers, but recovery has been fragile, the infrastructure remains deficient, and the people are still very poor. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, elected president in 1996, was ousted in a coup, reinstated by Nigerian-led forces in 1998, and re-elected in 2002. Opposition candidate Ernest Bai Koroma was elected president in 2007 in the first peaceful transition of power from one party to another since Sierra Leone achieved its independence. Industry (primarily mining) accounted for about 25 percent of GDP in 2007. Diamonds are the primary export. Two-thirds of the population depends on subsistence agriculture, and agriculture accounted for an estimated 46 percent of the economy in 2007.
Business Freedom54.6 Back to the top

The overall freedom to start, operate, and close a business is restricted under Sierra Leone’s regulatory environment. Starting a business takes an average of 12 days, compared to the world average of 35 days. Obtaining a business license takes more than the world average of 18 procedures and 218 days. Bankruptcy proceedings are fairly straightforward but costly.
Trade Freedom62.8 Back to the top

Sierra Leone’s simple average tariff rate was 13.6 percent in 2007. Liberalization of the trade regime is progressing, but import taxes and fees, non-transparent regulations, inefficient customs implementation and non-transparent customs valuation, inadequate infrastructure, and corruption add to the cost of trade. Ten points were deducted from Sierra Leone’s trade freedom score to account for non-tariff barriers.
Fiscal Freedom80.9 Back to the top

Sierra Leone has moderate tax rates. Both the top income tax rate and the top corporate tax rate are 30 percent. There is also a tax on interest. In the most recent year, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 10.4 percent.
Government Spending80.5 Back to the top

Total government expenditures, including consumption and transfer payments, are relatively low. In the most recent year, government spending equaled 25.5 percent of GDP. Measures to widen the tax base and clamp down on expenditures are on the reform agenda, but weak control of public spending management remains a central problem. A goods and services tax (GST) was set to be enacted in September 2009.
Monetary Freedom71.7 Back to the top

Inflation has been high, averaging 13.6 percent between 2006 and 2008. Most prices are freely set in the market, but the government influences prices through state-owned enterprises and utilities. Five points were deducted from Sierra Leone’s monetary freedom score to account for policies that distort domestic prices.
Investment Freedom40.0 Back to the top

Foreign investment receives national treatment and is not screened, but it is restricted in certain sectors. All investors face licensing requirements and must register with the government. The judicial system is slow and prone to corruption. Weak regulatory enforcement, lack of administrative capacity, restrictive labor rules, licensing, weak contract enforcement, inadequate infrastructure, and corruption also deter investment. Residents and non-residents may hold foreign exchange accounts. Foreign exchange and capital transactions may be subject to some restrictions and certain approval requirements. Foreigners may lease but not own land.
Financial Freedom20.0 Back to the top

Sierra Leone’s financial system was undermined by prolonged economic and political instability, and the recovery process has been rather sluggish. The banking sector has gradually expanded, with 13 commercial banks operating in the country. However, government-owned banks still account for a majority of banking assets, and the government’s frequent bond auctions tend to crowd out credit to other markets. Non-performing loans have stayed at over 20 percent of total loans in recent years. A considerable portion of the population remains outside the formal banking sector, and scarce access to credit is a major impediment to vibrant business activity. Poor enforcement of contracts discourages lending, and corruption is endemic. A substantial shadow market in U.S. dollars hinders efforts to combat money laundering. The Sierra Leone stock exchange was launched in 2009.
Property Rights10.0 Back to the top

Property is not secure. There is no land titling system, and judicial corruption is significant. Traditional tribal justice systems continue to serve as a supplement to the central government’s judiciary, especially in rural areas. Optical discs and tapes of popular music and films are illegally copied and sold on a substantial scale.
Freedom From Corruption19.0 Back to the top

Corruption is perceived as pervasive. Sierra Leone ranks 158th out of 179 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2008, a drop from 2007. International companies cite corruption in all branches of government as an obstacle to investment. Bribes, kickbacks, extortion, and skimming on contracts and payments are common forms of corruption.
Labor Freedom39.0 Back to the top

Sierra Leone’s labor regulations are inflexible. The non-salary cost of employing a worker is moderate, but the difficulty of firing workers is a significant disincentive to additional hiring.

Source:Sierra Leone

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Republic of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone ([sieɪrə liˈoːn]), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea in the northeast, Liberia in the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and has a population estimated at 6.4 million. The country is a constitutional republic comprising three provinces and the Western Area, which are further divided into fourteen districts.

The country has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. Freetown is the capital, largest city and economic center.. English is the official language, spoken at schools, government administration and by the media. However, the Krio language (a language derived from English and several African languages and native to the Sierra Leone Krio people) is the most widely spoken language in virtually all parts of the country. The Krio language is spoken by 97% of the country's population and unites all the different ethnic groups, especially in their trade and interaction with each other. Despite its common use throughout the country, the Krio language has no official status. In December 2002, Sierra Leone’s President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah named Bengali as an "official language" in recognition of the work of 5,300 troops from Bangladesh in the peace-keeping force.

Sierra Leone is very rich in minerals and has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. The country is among the top 10 diamond producing nations in the world, and mineral exports remain the main foreign currency earner. Sierra Leone also claims to be home to the third largest natural harbour in the world, the Queen Elizabeth II Quay (also known as the QE II Quay and locally as the Deep Water Quay or Government Warf).

Early inhabitants of Sierra Leone included the Sherbro, Temne and Limba, and Tyra peoples, and later the Mende, who knew the country as Romarong, and the Kono who settled in the East of the country. In 1462, it was visited by the Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra, who gave it its name Serra de Leão, meaning 'Lion Mountains'. Sierra Leone later became an important centre of the transatlantic trade in slaves until 1792 when Freetown was founded by the Sierra Leone Company as a home for formerly enslaved African Americans. In 1808, Freetown became a British Crown Colony, and in 1896, the interior of the country became a British Protectorate; in 1961, the two combined and gained independence.

Over two decades of government neglect of the interior followed by the spilling over of the Liberian conflict into its borders eventually led to the Sierra Leone Civil War,[16] which began in 1991 and was resolved in 2000 after the struggling Nigerian led United Nations troops were heavily reinforced by a British force spearheaded by 42 Commando of the Royal Marines as well as several British Army units. The arrival of this force in what was codenamed OPERATION PALLISER resulted in the defeat of rebel forces and restored the civilian government elected in 1998 to Freetown. Since then, almost 72,500 former combatants have been disarmed and the country has reestablished a functioning democracy. The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up in 2002 to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 1996.

Sierra Leone is the third lowest ranked country on the Human Development Index and seventh lowest on the Human Poverty Index, suffering from endemic corruption and suppression of the press.

Sierra Leone Early History

Archaeological finds show that Sierra Leone has been inhabited continuously for at least 2,500 years, populated by successive movements from other parts of Africa. The use of iron was introduced to Sierra Leone by the 9th century, and by AD 1000 agriculture was being practiced by coastal tribes. Sierra Leone's dense tropical rainforest largely protected it from the influence of any precolonial African empires and from further Islamic colonization, which were unable to penetrate through it until the 18th century.

European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. In 1462, Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra mapped the hills surrounding what is now Freetown Harbour, naming shaped formation Serra de Leão (Portuguese for Lion Mountains). The Italian rendering of this geographic formation is Sierra Leone, which became the country's name.

Soon after Portuguese traders arrived at the harbour and by 1495 a fort that acted as a trading post had been built. The Portuguese were joined by the Dutch and French; all of them using Sierra Leone as a trading point for slaves. In 1562 the English joined the trade in human beings when Sir John Hawkins enslaved 300 people 'by the sword and partly by other means'

Introduction Sierra Leone

Democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war from 1991 to 2002 that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population). The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country's stability. The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 presidential election, but still look to the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) - a civilian UN mission - to support efforts to consolidate peace. The new government's priorities include furthering development, creating jobs, and stamping out endemic corruption.

Sierra Leone economy, Sierra Leone extremely poor

Sierra Leone is an extremely poor nation with tremendous inequality in income distribution. While it possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, its physical and social infrastructure is not well developed, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development. Nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. Manufacturing consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. Alluvial diamond mining remains the major source of hard currency earnings accounting for nearly half of Sierra Leone's exports. The fate of the economy depends upon the maintenance of domestic peace and the continued receipt of substantial aid from abroad, which is essential to offset the severe trade imbalance and supplement government revenues. The IMF has completed a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program that helped stabilize economic growth and reduce inflation. A recent increase in political stability has led to a revival of economic activity such as the rehabilitation of bauxite and rutile mining.