Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 January 2020:
President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, along with his ministers are on a two day retreat to discuss and review the government’s performance in achieving the targets it had set itself for the period April 2018 to January 2020.
The retreat is organised and led by the Office of the Chief Minister – David Francis, who is responsible for performance oversight of ministers and their deputies, permanent secretaries and professional heads.
The two day event is being held as a non-residential at the Freetown International Conference Centre in Aberdeen , to avoid expensive hotel accommodation charges.
Ministers, heads of departments and senior civil servants are making their way – back and forth to the conference centre, rather than stay overnight.
This is the third ministerial retreat organised by the government in two years, since president Bio came to power in 2018.
The first retreat was held in June 2018 – barely months into the life of the new government, to set goals, objectives and map out delivery strategies for each ministry and department.
The second retreat took place in January 2019, where chief minister David Francis launched and presented his ministerial performance policy.
Since then, a report was published late last year on the performance of each ministry, which showed that most of the ministers were either underperforming or just about coping with their roles.
The theme of this third ministerial retreat is titled – “Consolidating the foundation for service delivery.” President Bio will deliver the Keynote address, followed by discussions and review of the achievements and strategies of the various ministries, against the government’s goal of delivering public services effectively.
According to the Chief Minister, “the highlights of the two day retreat are to review the New Direction progress on the implementation of the eight priorities from April 2018 to January 2020; prioritize target setting for the delivery of results and outcomes; deepen understanding of the Medium-Term National Development Plan and its linkages to service delivery, performance management, monitoring and evaluation”.
According to the government, the overall outcomes of this weekend’s retreat will contribute to bolster the work of the Office of the Chief Minister, which includes ensuring service delivery and performance management, independent verification and evidence based delivery of results.
Last week, a document released by the Office of the Chief Minister listed dozens of achievements he said the government has made in the past two years.
He said that there are challenges, yet much progress has been made in laying the foundations for a prosperous Sierra Leone, as he reiterated President Bio’s goal of ensuring that 2020 is a year of consolidating the achievements and successes of the New Direction Government.
According to the Chief Minister, the New Direction Government has achieved the following in two years – 2018 – 2020:
- After 12 years of trial, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States Foreign Aid agency in 2019 positively assessed Sierra Leone under the leadership of President Bio in the control of corruption, ruling justly and investing in people with pass marks in guaranteeing democratic rights, civil liberties, the rule of law, health and primary education expenditures.
- The MCC also gave a pass mark to the government of President Bio in the area of economic freedom, trade policy, gender in the economy and business start-up.
- Reviewed the Anti-Corruption Act to make it more robust in the fight against corruption.
- The government of President Bio paid $1.2 billion domestic debt left by ex-president Koroma of the APC.
- In 2019, President Bio launched Africa’s first block chain and decentralized digital platform under the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) in Sierra Leone.
- Established and operationalized the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) under the Office of the President.
- Translated commitment into action for the construction of the Lungi/Freetown Bridge as arrangements for the construction of the bridge are far ahead.
- Contributed to human capital development through Free Quality Education (FQE) for Primary and Secondary education to over two million children in Sierra Leone. Committed 21% of the country’s GDP to the FQE . The first government in West Africa to provide free quality education across primary and secondary schools. Spent 30 billion Leones in the supplying of 26 million text books and other school materials; provided school buses exclusively for school going children; increased salaries of teacher by 30%; approved 106 schools across the country.
- Controlled government deficit/borrowing.
- Created a Ministry of Environment in response to the global environmental challenges.
- Provided sustainable electricity supply to Sierra Leoneans, especially in the Western Area.
- Recruited 300 female in the army – First ever in the history of Sierra Leone.
- Commissioned 48 hospitals across the country.
- Supplied 506 ambulances across the country to respond to health emergencies.
- Commissioned the construction of two universities: one in Bonthe and the other in Kono District.
- Increased salaries of government workers by 15%.
- Appropriated Le18.3 billion to Freetown City Council to transform Freetown.
- Renovated the Sierra Leone Parliament to a modern level.
- Paid for application forms for students who enrolled into universities.
- Paid school subsidies for all pupils across the country.
- Offered scholarship to university students studying Mathematics, Geography, Agriculture, Biology and Engineering.
- Introduced and sustained national cleaning days on the first Saturday of every month.
- Set up Commission of Inquiry to investigate the stewardship of past government officials.
- Approved solar lights to be install at Moyamba District.
- Commissioned the Lumley market and Juba to Atlantic bridge.
- Commissioned the Bo Mattru-Jong Road.
- Commissioned the Kenema / Tongo-Fields / Koidu Road.
- Commission the construction of 68 streets in Kenema.
- Commissioned the construction of the Kenema mini stadium.
- Commissioned the completion of the Tokeh Peninsula Road.
- Supported the rehabilitation of the Bo stadium.
- Supported the rehabilitation of Magburaka Boys School & commission the road and clock tower.
- Commissioned the construction of the Magbereh Bridge on Makeni highway.
- First government to rule for 9 months without international budgetary support.
- The first government to raise Le 8.7billion from corrupt politician in six month.
- Commissioned the Milton Margai College Library and Science Laboratory.
- Commissioned a drone corridor in Njala, the first in the West African Sub-region.
There is no doubting the fact that the opposition and critics will be disputing many of the claims of achievements listed above by the chief minister.
But will the outcome of this weekend’s retreat be published by the government?