By Amin Kef Sesay – 20 August 2019
On Tuesday 20th August 2019, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Kelfala M. Kallon, issued 3 Press Releases, which he read to the press at the Bank’s Conference room, effectively laying down strict measures to be followed in dealing with the US Dollar by NGOs (both international and national), businesses and private individuals.
According to the releases, all remittances to NGOs from overseas should be channelled directly through their accounts held in the various banks in the country. To ensure that compliance is obtained, both the ministry of Finance and the BSL will be tracking such remittances. Furthermore, the holding of and export of foreign currency in excess of Ten Thousand US Dollars or its equivalent outside the banking system is violation of the Bank of Sierra Leone Act 2019 and is punishable by law as stipulated in section 26 (5) of the act of 2019.
Relying on section 48 (3) of the Bank of Sierra Leone Act of 2019, Governor Kallon maintained that no individual or business entity should hold more than US$10,000 or its equivalent in any foreign currency or collect same outside the banking system, hinging on the foreign exchange bureaus doing business in the country.
They were asked to do daily returns of their foreign exchange transactions to the BSL and also pay into the commercial banks all foreign monies above the prescribed limit. In this regard, he stressed that under reporting of FX transactions to the Bank of Sierra Leone will result in revocation of their license.
For the travelling public, the governor had this warning, all foreign currencies should be declared and any amount in excess of the prescribed amount will be confiscated by BSL. This should take immediate effect, Kelfala Kallon stressed. For business people and organisations entering into the country with foreign currency above the prescribed amount, they should declare the said amount at the Airport in a manner determined by the Customs and Immigration authorities and within three days of their arrival in the country the said excess should be paid into the commercial banks, adding that no individual or group is allowed to hold foreign currency above the prescribed limit at home or otherwise and such monies will be converted to the Leone at the BSL’s mid-rate.
Finally, the governor encouraged citizens to assist the bank with any vital information that will lead to the nabbing of defaulters of these directives, intimating that 5% of the proceeds of the confiscated amount will be given to the vigilant citizen who provides such information. The quoting of prices in US Dollars for the purchase, sale or any transaction in the country is prohibited, as well as the collection of rent, leases and any other remuneration in dollars is also prohibited and violators will be prosecuted and when found guilty, they will face the full penalty of the law.