The Republic of Sierra Leone State House

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The World Bank Director in Sierra Leone, Engelbert Gudmusson, today bade farewell to President Koroma and introduced his successor, Vijay Pillai. In his remarks, Mr. Gudmusson thanked President Koroma for the wonderful cooperation and access accorded to him during his tour of duty. "It has been very valuable to me. It made my life and my work much easier. I have enjoyed every minute of it," he said, while hoping that he had also been of assistance to the President and the Government of Sierra Leone. "I wish you would accord the same access to my successor who I highly recommend as a dependable person," he maintained. He said he witnessed the 2007 elections and monitored the transition process from the former government to the new one, and "we are now in a much better place... You and your government are very much on top of the issues."

Mr. Gudmusson however said that he would not leave Sierra Leone altogether yet, as he has some projects in relation to aid coordination with the Ministry of Finance.

In his response, President Koroma said "it is always hard to say goodbye, especially with someone you've enjoyed working with." He recalled that his government came in at a difficult moment, "but the World Bank was there to give us the support we needed." He said he has always been telling his colleague Heads of State that "one of the impressions we made quickly and early enough was the fulfillment of the promise for the provision of energy within a hundred days, and that the World Bank played a key role in seeing it through... It was remarkable. It was one big move that sent signals to the people of this country that this is a serious government."

The President personally commended the outgoing County Director for his efforts, especially also in reviving dormant or dumped projects like the Bo-Kenema Road and the Makeni-Matotoka Road reconstruction.

President Koroma reminded both the outgoing and the in-coming Directors that the World Bank has pending commitments to the country, especially in the energy sector, and "I hope they would be fulfilled soon, as we move on with the Agenda for Change." He appreciated the fact that Mr. Gudmusson would still be involved in the country's affairs: "With your vast experience, I am sure that whatever services you can provide us will be invaluable."

To the new Country Director, President Koroma extended a hearty welcome, while stating that the Government of Sierra Leone and the World Bank "now have a clearly identified roadmap; and your work will be easier, as everybody knows what to do. I promise you'll have as much access to me as possible." He appealed for bureaucratic flexibility in the World Bank, especially in pursuing Sierra Leone's goals in agricultural productivity. "Together we will make it successful, and I hope your stay will be a very successful one," President Koroma concluded.

Present at the ceremony were Minister of Information & Communications I.B. Kargbo and Deputy Minister of Finance Momodu Kargbo.


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