Sierra Leone Forecasts Growth of 15.1% in 2013, Minister Says

Economic growth in Sierra Leone may reach 15.1 percent next year as the country expands mining operations, according to Finance Minister Kaifala Marah.

Expansion this year was seen at 21.3 percent, he told lawmakers during a budget presentation in the capital, Freetown, today. That’s the fastest in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund, which forecast 2013 output of 7.5 percent in Sierra Leone.

London-based African Minerals Ltd. and London Mining Plc mine iron ore in the former British colony. The country attracted about $3 billion in foreign investment this year, according to President Ernest Bai Koroma, who won re-election last month and named Marah finance minister on Dec. 17.

In 2013, royalties from iron-ore mining are expected to bring in 101 billion leones ($23 million). Royalties from other minerals, including gold, diamonds and bauxite, may reach 33.6 billion leones, according to Marah. Next year’s inflation target will be “below 10 percent” from 11 percent this year, he said. The rate was 11.25 percent in October, Marah said.

Spending will rise to 3.2 trillion leones next year from an estimated 2.7 trillion leones in 2012, Marah said. Revenue and grants are expected to reach 2.7 trillion leones in 2013, compared with 2.5 trillion leones this year. The 2012 budget deficit is forecast at 4.9 percent of gross domestic product, Marah said, without giving an outlook for 2013.

To contact the reporter on this story: Silas Gbandia in Freetown via Accra at sgbandia@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

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