By Elisha Harding
At the Bank of Sierra Leone, on the 1st July 2022, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio launched the much talked about redenominated Leone notes during which he urged financial institutions in the country to extend loan facilities to citizens with low-interest rates.
“The technical experts have made a strong case. There will be a simplification of accounting records and a significant reduction in cash volumes needed for transactions. The inconveniences and inefficiencies of using the old notes will be a thing of the past. We have removed three zeroes, but the money yesterday is of the same value as the money today,” he said.
President Bio said those in the informal economy might struggle with transactions, using the new notes, adding that he is encouraging the bank to intensify its sensitization campaigns in the transition period and beyond further calling for more people to access low-interest credit that would lead to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
“Reach out to the ordinary citizen in the markets, places of worship, their communities, in the rural areas, in their villages and towns. Citizens must be informed fully about the new currency. It is only fair that citizens receive the correct exchange and transaction values for the old notes as we use them alongside the new Leones. This is also a civic duty of all of us to help our fellow citizens to get it right.
“Clearly, our politicians and self-righteous pundits will soon flood social media, radio, and TV programmes with all manner of negative noise about the new note and the intention behind introducing it. They will conjure conspiracy theories, doom and gloom stories, and some downright amusing explanations,” he said.
President Bio also used the occasion to advise some people against attempting to spread falsehoods about the value of the new note, clarifying further that the Le5 of the new notes would pay for the same goods and services that Le5, 000 of the old notes were able to buy yesterday.
“As the Bank of Sierra Leone people have said, it is ‘New Money Same Value. New Notes; Same Value.’ The value of your pension, your debts, your rent, and your salary remain the same. I am honoured, therefore, at this time, to officially launch the New Leone, our new currency and legal tender in Sierra Leone,” he concluded.
Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Professor Kelfala Kallon, on his part, said he was greatly honoured to have been a part of the redenomination process of the currency, saying that the relative strength of a country’s currency is the most important means through which its economic health would be measured. He added that the reason three zeros had been reduced from the old Leone notes is to make it easier to compete with other currencies.
He maintained that redenomination might not solve the country’s economic problems but, through proper macroeconomic policies, it could reset the country’s currency to change the public perception about the country, providing another starting point for the country through economic reforms that address factors that led to the depreciation of the currency.
“We hope that as we do this, we will bring together macroeconomic policies, structural changes to the economy that will make this the last time of denominating the currency of this country,” Professor Kallon noted.
Minister of Finance, Honourable Dennis K. Vandi thanked the Board of Governors of the Bank of Sierra Leone, their staff and other development partners who stood by the country throughout the process. He referred to the event as a landmark occasion that would present the country with another opportunity to grow its economy.
He further noted that extreme care and great efforts were put into the redenomination process with sensitization of the public in every part of the country on facts that the new Leones would enhance transactions for businesses, individuals, private sector, and public sector players.
“Your Excellency, ladies, and gentlemen, I am truly happy about this achievement. I appeal to you all to support this redenomination process. Thank you very much,” he concluded.