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Sierra Leone Business: EU will always be a major partner to Sierra Leone – Amb. Tom Vens

Celebrating Europe Day on Thursday 9th May at Sierra Light House, the Head of Delegation Ambassador Tom Vens says for over 40 years the European Union has been a major development partner to Sierra Leone. “EU support to improved Governance has continued throughout the year. A resilient state requires strong institutions and we will continue to invest in Public Service Reform, the Electoral Commission, Parliament, the National Civil Registration Authority and in an institutional framework that supports effective Decentralisation. Our budget support operations are a means to promote policy reforms in education and agriculture and contribute to strong results in public finance management.” The Ambassador said they are partnering to deliver on the Government’s promise to provide Free Quality School Education for all. He said the EU’s budget support operation has been instrumental to operationalize the Teacher Service Commission and preparations are underway for the rehabilitation of about 100 junior secondary schools. “In partnership with GIZ we are also supporting demand driven skills development and the creation of the World Bank managed multi-donor Trust Fund will be a key tool towards well-coordinated quality delivery.” Ambassador Tom Vens said the EU shares the government’s vision that the path to sustainable development, based on growth and creation of decent jobs, relies on improved and more efficient agricultural production. Several of their programmes he said target agricultural development and agro-processing, as they want to do more in this area, also with the aim to attract more private investment for this sector and create good jobs.  “Overall, the EU and its Member States remains the largest provider of official development assistance here in Sierra Leone and in the world. We do this with and through the Government, with our multilateral and NGO partners and, increasingly our private sector partners.” Ambassador Tom Vens averred that EU believes that connecting people and places is paramount to promote growth, but also to cultivate peaceful relations with their neighbours. “I am, therefore, pleased to announce that in the next weeks you will be able to cross the Waanji, Sewa and Moa rivers on the road from Bandajuma to the Liberian border over three impressive double lane bridges. The road works are expected to be fully completed next year.” “Partnership and cooperation are part of the EU’s DNA. In the case of Sierra Leone, this partnership goes back more than 40 years and we are here to stay. A mature partnership relies on an open and constructive dialogue on policy matters and issues of shared concern. We will therefore continue to invest in an open and sincere dialogue to achieve our shared goals. What we want is what you want: a Sierra Leone that is resilient, prosperous, and that cares for all its citizens.” He said as development partners, real transformation will ultimately depend on the space that is being created for credible investment and the creation of decent jobs, especially for the youth.  HOD Tom Vens said they are stepping up their support and engagement to make this happen.  “I want to underscore once more that we will not make meaningful progress if we do not redouble our efforts to give women and girls, and other vulnerable groups, their rightful place in society. We are stepping up our engagement in this area.” Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nimatulai Bah Chang thanked the EU for all their support to Sierra Leone and congratulated Amb. Vens and team for celebrating Europe Day. She said they have made tremendous support in promoting good governance, Public sector reform, energy and support to non-state actors in the promotion of human rights, democracy, and freedom of expression, gender, education, agriculture and access to justice.  “I would like to particularly commend the invaluable contributions of the EU in keeping up to the promise of realizing the Official Development Assistance (ODA). In this regard, let me emphasize the critical need to support domestic tax. International public finance plays an important role in complementing national efforts to mobilize scarce domestic resources. Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains one of the main sources of international financing to complement our domestic financing resources. ODA is vital as a catalyst for development, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Mrs Bah Chang reiterated that the Ideas of peace and prosperity that shaped the future of Europe continue to inspire peace loving peoples everywhere around the world, including Sierra Leone, which is why they rejoice the milestones of this unique institution — the European Union, and applaud the excellent cooperation between the Government of Sierra Leone and the European Union. She said the government is committed towards putting Sierra Leone on the path to sustainability and resilience, and they are determined to engage all stakeholders including political parties and civil society organizations with the view to encouraging and promoting national reconciliation. The former deputy Foreign Minister said they are currently implementing the National Youth Service Scheme where young people from one part of the country are being cross-posted to other parts for their national youth service. “With the support of the EU and other donor partners, Sierra Leone has made remarkable progress in charting the path for a peaceful, secure, democratic Sierra Leone and its future prosperity. The country has made tremendous strides in improving its international risk profile as a post-conflict country and we continue to build and consolidate a conducive and attractive environment for investment opportunities. On the socio-economic and political front, the Government of Sierra Leone remains committed to the strong partnership link existing between Sierra Leone and the European Union. I would like to stress on the need for the EU to continue to invest in our success, through supporting our national development plan.”

Monday May 13, 2019.

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