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Gov’t, EU sign 60M EURO ‘Jobs and Growth Programme’

The Government of Sierra Leone, through the National Authorizing Office, has signed a Sixty Million Euro (SLL 630 Billion) European Union jobs and growth program to boost sustainable and inclusive economic development and job creation in the agriculture and education sectors. The grant would also contribute significantly to the government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.

The Jobs and Growth Program is a 60-month program aimed at improving skills and education and creating a more enabling investment environment in the agricultural sector. The program would improve the investment climate and business environment focusing on improving access to finance for the private sector and improve rural road infrastructure by creating jobs for young people in feeder roads maintenance. The program would also improve human capital, better aligned to the labor market— supporting schools and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector.

During the signing ceremony, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, who doubles as the National Authorizing Officer, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai said the jobs and growth program was an important investment in young people and our agricultural productivity. He said the program would address the need to equip young people with skills to cope with future aspirations, and the importance of an environment that delivers employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

According to him, the support, which was also aligned to government’s “Quick Action Economic Recovery” would provide affordable financial services, better maintenance of roads, improved basic education as well as job-oriented training for young people, and also women in starting businesses.

“In addition to testing the resilience of our people and our healthcare systems, COVID-19 would have a significant impact on businesses and the economy. The Government of President Julius Maada Bio’s response recognizes that we must maintain economic stability and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 shock on businesses, jobs and households, while minimizing the human toll of the disease. President Bio’s Quick Action Recovery Program aims to ensure essential commodities are available and maintain price stability, support hardest-hit businesses, provide assistance for the local production and processing of staple food items”, he ended.

Tom Vens, The EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone said the signing symbolized the partnership between Sierra Leone and the European Union. He said the EU stands with Sierra Leone in these difficult moments, which would continue to strengthen solidarity among both entities.

Mr. Vens said the program would be implemented together with the Government of Sierra Leone and some of the strongest partners for development including: the United Nation’s Capital Development Fund, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank and GIZ. He further announced that under the jobs and growth program, the EU was already expanding its support to the fight against COVID, with an additional 5.5 Million Euro (SLL58 Billion) earmarked to reinforce the Social Safety Net Program of the Government of Sierra Leone.

Other dignitaries in attendance included: the Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Robert Chakanda, the Deputy Development Secretary, Umaru Conteh and the Director of the National Authorizing Office, Mr. Ambrose James among others.



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