Sierra Leone lifts restriction on foreign currency transactions

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone has lifted a year-long restriction on foreign currency transaction.

The restriction was imposed in August 2019 at the height of a major economic crisis that was characterised by high inflation and shortage of the local currency, Leone.

It prohibited individuals or businesses to hold more than US$10,000 or its equivalent in any other foreign currency outside the banking system. It also prohibited export of same amount.

The Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) said that anyone can now hold as much amount of money as they have in any currency.

“All restrictions on the amount of foreign currency individuals and businesses may hold within Sierra Leone have been lifted with immediate effect,” the Bank said in a statement signed by BSL Governor, Prof Kelfala M. Kallon.

It also ordered commercial banks to reverse all restrictions in relation to the policy on their customers’ accounts.

The BSL said the move then was meant to protect the Leone as a legal tender and transactions of any form in foreign currency were declared illegal.

Wednesday’s announcement didn’t mention any of that.

The restriction on foreign currency transaction had been criticised by businesspeople, especially those who engage in import and export, for its effect on their businesses.

Many have blamed it, alongside high taxes, for the increase in prices of basic goods and services, which has further worsened the economic situation in the country.