Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Madam Nanette Thomas excels at the ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration and Development, Seminar on Remittances in Brussels, Belgium.
By Bockarie Kukuku Musa
The Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Madam Nanette Thomas together with the Deputy Director of the Office of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Sorie Tholley attends the ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration and Development, Seminar on Remittances in Brussels, Belgium.
The seminar on remittances which was organised by the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) was attended by Stefano Manservisi, the Director-General of DG DEVCO, Ambassador Leonard-Emile Ognimba, Assistant Secretary General – Political Affairs and Human Development, Leon Isaacs, JOINT-CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Development Market Associates (DMA), Sara Pérez Peña, European Commission Policy officer, Karras Lui, Manager at Central Bank of Samoa, Alix Murphy, Senior Mobile Analyst at WorldRemit and host of specialists in remittances, payments, financial inclusion and diaspora investment.
Among the issues discussed in the opening ideas of the ACP Secretariat – Secrétariat ACP – European Union Seminar on Remittances were are as follows:
There is a need to invest in 5 key areas in the coming 18 months as to reach the SDGs
1) The regulations for fighting the irregular uses of remittances should be improved;
2) Countries should *not* tax Remittances;
3) Small money transfer companies need incentives to thrive, as they bring innovation;
4) Trust Accounts should be implemented;
5) Governments should invest in financial technologies as to improve formal remittances channels.
In her statement, Madam Nanette Thomas outlined the current status of Sierra Leone’s economy, the challenges and how to address these socio-economic challenges. The Minister further highlighted the role the EU and other development partners can play in Sierra Leone’s economic recovery efforts and how they can help in the development of infrastructure and job creation.
In another development, the Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Madam Nanette Thomas held a closed door meeting with the European Commission Director and the Sierra Leone Desk Officer in order to help facilitate a Diaspora Policy and to organize a Civil Society Workshop.
EXTRACTS FROM STATEMENT BY MADAM NANETTE THOMAS, MINISTER OF POLITICAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS DELIVERED AT THE ACP-EU DIALOGUE ON MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT, SEMINAR ON REMITTANCES IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM HELD ON THE 13TH JULY 2016.
The Government of Sierra Leone recognizes that remittance flows are an important driver for economic growth and prosperity in development of any country.
It is evident that remittances provide low-income households with the opportunity to increase consumption and invest in human and social capital, as well as financial assets. Remittances provide a safeguard from poverty and can also provide a pathway towards financial inclusion.
My Government is committed to take practical measures to reduce the global average cost of transferring remittances and improve the availability of remittance services. My Government took some strong action last month on the use of foreign currencies. It was agreed that all business transactions and payments should be done in our domestic currency which is the Leone(s). The aim of this is to make the Leones more valuable.
From the publication by the World Bank Group, it is estimated that the reduction in the cost of transferring remittances since then has resulted in savings of up to USD 43 billion for migrants and their families in developing countries including Sierra Leone.
The most recent Leones campaign is a National Remittance strategy to further reduce costs and drive sustainable, open remittance markets. Through these plans, our government would be implementing a country-led action to: foster market competition and effective risk-based regulation; improve financial system infrastructure; pursue policies conducive to harnessing emerging technologies; and increase transparency, literacy and consumer protection of remittance transfers.
We will annually review the implementation of these plans to achieve our commitment on reducing the cost of transferring remittances. Our actions will be targeted and support the global efforts to reduce remittance costs, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
My government acknowledges concerns that some financial institutions have terminated client relationships with remittance businesses. The extent and underlying causes of these terminations are not yet fully understood, but preliminary analysis indicates they are driven by multiple factors, and could have negative implications on growth and financial inclusion. The provision of financial services to remittance businesses fosters remittance transfers through the regulated financial system, supporting anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing goals.
My Government takes deeply into cognizant of the emerging technologies and the importance of improving financial system infrastructure. My Government will continue to promote the safe, cost-efficient, and more reliable transfer of remittances, including through our banking systems, innovative payment platforms and non-bank financial institutions, as appropriate. We will also undertake analysis to better understand remittance sectors and key corridors to maximize the gains from remittances, and boost financial inclusion, consumer protection and literacy.
I will conclude by saying that the Government of Sierra Leone is grateful to the entire staff of the ACP Secretariat, the Belgian Government and the European Union for extending the invitation to us. Together, Africa, we can become a powerful force to reckon with. Remember unity is strength.
Thank you very much for giving me your time.