Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 March 2015
With international aid now accounting for almost 60% of the government’s income, there are fears the effects of the Ebola crisis may now take decades to roll back, assuming corruption and poor productivity and public sector inefficiencies can be curbed.
The country’s debt has grown in the last eight years at an alarming pace, as the Koroma government embarked on a misplaced priority of infrastructure development, at the expense of investing in the country’s health systems, water and sanitation, education, and pro-poor initiatives.
It is estimated that Sierra Leone’s debt now stands at more than $1.5 billion. The country needs over $300 million to meet its pre-Ebola spending commitment, and more than $500 million to begin the hard task of post-Ebola recovery.
As hundreds of millions of dollars begin to pour into a governance system that most Sierra Leoneans describe as rotten to the core and riddled with corruption, there is an urgent need for the international community, the IMF and the World Bank to demand that the Koroma government undertake serious root and branch reform of the country’s governance and public finance management structures.
This demand is most critical, in the light of the Auditor General’s report into the mismanagement of $18 million Ebola fund, as well as eight years of successive national audit reports expressing dismay at the appalling levels of misappropriation of public funds, and lack of accountability.