Four years of hardship for the poor man in Sierra Leone

National Grand Coalition Party (NGC): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 April 2022:

Exactly four years ago yesterday in the Republic of Sierra Leone, there was peaceful transition from the All Peoples Congress regime to the Sierra Leone Peoples Party Government led by His Excellency Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio. The destiny of the people changed hands and we all hoped that the newcomers who promised to take a new direction would lead us all to a “betteh Salone.”

We assumed that the first priority of the new regime on gaining power, if they were a responsible party, was to cater for the basic needs of the ordinary citizens; especially since J.J Saffa, the man who was to become the Minister of Finance and later Chief Minister had faithfully promised at campaign time that if elected, his party would resolve the bread-and-butter issues.

The National Grand Coalition (NGC) therefore, assuming our responsibility as an opposition party, adopted a very simple way of monitoring the performance of the newcomers. We systematically recorded the prices of basic food items in the market that every family needs to survive since March 2018.

The report we present today to commemorate the Paopa regime’s fourth year in office is the eighth such report since we started in 2018. Paopanistas initially ridiculed this exercise, called us the idle party that goes to markets. But here we are today with another snapshot of the way this regime has impoverished our people, another report card for the “talk and do”. Please read it well and see for yourselves.

Everything has increased since 2018; today the lowest increase recorded is the price of a bag of rice, Le 430,000 or 83% increase although a cup of rice has increased by 150% at Le 3,000 per cup. Note that these prices are from markets in Freetown and can be higher in the provinces (a cup of rice now costs Le 5,000 in Jendema).

Interestingly but not surprisingly, the highest increases are on locally produced items such as dry bonga fish (1100% increase), tie plassas (700% increase), pepper by cup (757% increase). It is not surprising because the local producers, the fisherman, plassas and pepper grower need money to buy other things that have also become expensive.

Our chop money budget, that is the estimate of the prices of items needed by a family of four persons (papa, mama and two kids) to prepare their daily meal, stands today at Le 82,500. This means that for a low-income family that depends on one person earning the minimum wage of Le 600,000, if they spend all the money on preparing food, that family will eat for only four days. This is the reality of the ordinary man.

No explanation about high world prices for fuel or COVID or Ukraine, can convince a man whose salary lasts only four days on just food. If he can no longer feed his family for twenty-six days in a month, pay his rent, send his children every day to school or buy top up, but hears that one Big Man in his country is ready to pay two billion leones in a church as bus fare to go to heaven, he is bound to be angry!

This Government cannot blame the opposition for their failure. By their ineptitude and arrogance, they are very successful in campaigning against themselves. They refused to take us seriously when we told them to address the issue of hardship as a matter of urgency. Instead of doing something about it, they sent people on radio and television to defend, refute and explain. Now even the Minister of Information has run out of explanations (see video below) and disappeared, leaving their strategic vuvuzelas to embarrass themselves.

Four years have gone by and sweet nothing to show. Yesterday, expecting Paopa to be celebrating their fourth anniversary, guess what? AYV and Radio Democracy 98.1 went off the air. Nothing to talk about. Shame! And yet, they want more time. FOR WHAT???

8 Comments

  1. Mr. Sahr Matturi The reality is, Sierra Leone is a signed member of these institutions. I still recollect the first time I heard about IMF conditions was in the 80’s , when late President Siaka Stevens made a joke that “ the IMF wants to devalue our souls” with reference to devaluing the Leone. But that was the result of hosting the then Organization Of African Union (OAU) which is now African Union (AU) conference, which cost the late Bank Governor Sam Bangura his life because of his refusal to disburse funds and to silence him as a potential whistle blower. Under late President Joseph Momoh, I heard about “floating of the Leone”and “State of Economic Emergency”. Before the hosting of the OAU, our country’s GDP was one of the top in our region and even rice was exported by the Sierra Leone Producing Marketing Board (SLPMB).

    Late President Tejan Kabba also implemented IMF conditions after the devastating 10 years civil war and the January 6th massacre, which resulted in “Debt forgiveness or cancellation” in 2006. He also rebuilt our institutions and signed contracts with credible mining companies.

    Unfortunately, between 2007 to 2018 , even the infrastructural projects started by the SLPP were still incomplete and former President Koroma became the richest man after selling our shares in the Sierra Rutile and largest diamond while he declared Austerity. In fairness, President Bio started under difficult circumstances (IMF conditions and Pandemic) and we have to judge him at the end of his mandate instead of inciting violence and spreading propaganda (the gron dry).

  2. Samuel Kamara, you have hit the nail on the head. Land ,Labour, Capital, Entrepreneurship are the basis of production, hence development. Not Chairman for life bribing supporters in Makeni, the man is a disgrace or El Presidente with a penchant for medieval politics. Tribalistic perspective, anyone.
    Question, why are people killing themselves for land in Freetown, when we have a whole country. Look at Botswana.

  3. Yes indeed, the previous APC administration having enjoyed the fastest growing economy in the world due to the booming mining activities by companies such as African Minerals, London mining, etc; were forced to impose austerity measures because of rampant corruption as well as the unexpected decline of iron ore prices at the international market, exacerbated by the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic. As most incompetent African governments, the APC ran to the IMF to seek loan; however, they were told to increase local revenue generation, which involves the removal of fuel subsidies among other measures. Facing an upcoming election, the APC refuses the IMF demands, which resulted to a hold in any IMF funding.

    Fast forward, the opposition SLPP having won the 2018 election, with claims of inheriting a bankrupt economy, decided to go along with the IMF demands, leading to the removal of fuel subsidies, increases in import taxes, and a host of other revenue generation measures to get the needed loans. In no time, these actions by the government immediately translated into sudden price increases of local commodities, exacerbating an already dire economy situation, with locals coining the term ‘D gron dry’.

    After the SLPP regime succeeded in securing IMF loans, contrary to what a responsible and competent government could have done, the PAOPA regiment of the party went into a spending frenzy. The president decided to use the money for oversea traveling, crisscrossing the globe in chartered private jets with the bogus claims of wooing investors. Other PAOPAs such as professor Francis get caught depositing his own slices of the pie at a local bank, while first lady Fatima Bio, using her pet project ‘Hands of our Girls’ as a disguise, stole millions of dollars. Then there is the bloated wage bill. Key PAOPAs appointed to bogus job positions with huge salary allotment. Both at home and our over sea embassies, party loyalist are appointed, with many doing absolutely nothing but a poly to get them free money. The list goes on. At the end, nothing to show for the IMF loans, only PAOPAs have enrich themselves, while hardship continues to quadruple.

  4. Ladies and gentlemen. Let’s stop attacking eachother and attack the IMF and World Bank.They are responsible for all these problems in the first place. We will take on our leaders later. But for now, let’s send a clear signal to them about how their careless debts to our country is destroying our economy and causing social, political and economic chaos. How on earth would they continue to give debts to countries that will never pay back. Are they morally mad? I advised President Bio three years back not to remove the subsidies on rice, fuel, etc for loan from the IMF and World Bank. It will be a recipe for chaos and abarchy down the road. But he did not listen.

    For heaven’s sake and the good of our beloved Sierra Leone, the IMF and World Bank must GO! As long as we are with them, we will never prosper or be financially independent as a country. Once again, in the name of the almighty God and for the good of our country and people, let them GO! Outrageous, upsetting and disgusting manner of giving loans. God bless Sierra Leone. Amen and Amen, Father God.

  5. I commend the NGC chairman for his consistency in holding the government accountable for the price increases in the country since 2018.
    In politics, that’s “ constructive criticism” instead of propaganda. The “ Gron Dry” based on the fact that the APC party that was supposed to reduce corruption, implement the IMF and World Bank conditions of single treasury account and removal of subsidies from fuel and rice was trying to bye time to win the 2018 presidential elections before the implementation. This caused our donors to leave our country and the APC had no option but to declare Austerity. Even in the USA when former President Barack Obama inherited a bankrupt economy from his predecessor, it took the country more than 8 years to recover which benefited former President Trump before the surprising outbreak of the COVID-19 , now inflation is the highest in 40 years.

    Under Austerity, the New Direction government still implemented their flagship program the Free quality education program which has transformed the lives of our citizens especially our future generation. Inheriting an austerity economy and implementing IMF and World Bank conditions was the reality, and the pandemic and global shutdown within only one year is still a challenge. Based on the fact that most industries were closed, the price of crude oil fell which our citizens benefited from because the price of petrol dropped to Le 7500. Now that sanctions against Russia which is one of the biggest oil producer is a justification for the price increase of petroleum and food.

    May the almighty continue to bless President Bio for continuously saving the lives and livelihoods of our citizens and making our country one of the safest and peaceful country in our region during this difficult times.

  6. “He who wishes to triumph, must learn to endure”. It is very evident that life is unfair based on the perspective from what ever angle we imagine it. What equate us all is death. The situation we faced with today has a multiplier effect of making us better managers and hardworking people. This is simply because, most of the commodities that are associated to be our staple foods are the ones that cost more. While commodities like clothes and some wearables seem relatively cheap in the market. This brings into play the issue of intuitive learning. Who is to blame? Is it government or our authorities or ourselves.

    Have we ever asked these question. Who owns the land where these crops are grown? How is the land tenure arrangement in our country helping its citizenry to become food self sufficient? What is the role of government and our authorities to ensure that food self sufficiency is achieved in our country? This problem emanates from the least village and then graduates to towns and cities. This is what I call “the politics of human existence”.

    Remember that Sierra Leone is yet to become an industrialized country where the GDP per capital can be sufficient to address the problem we now faced with. Sierra Leone has a green vegetation and very good soil. The question we still have to ask is – what is holding us back from producing enough food in the land?

  7. Bravo to the ‘tok & do’ government of PAOPA! Due to their sheer incompetency, arrogance, and thievery, in just 4 yrs in governance, they have manage to unleashed such monumental hardship on the poor citizens of our nation, the likes of which we’ve never experience, even during our 11yrs civil war. ‘Tok & do’ indeed!!

  8. At the end of the day ,we’ve been through this twist and turns with Bio , and his one directionless government that to the casual observer might just conclude to themselves,Sierra Leoneans are so fatalistic, and prone to being decived, chances are we will never vote for change in our country.How on earth did our country the first with a University in the British colonies in West Africa , fell so far behind in the social ,economic and political emancipation ladder , sixty years after independence we are still trying to figure out the economic model that suits our country. Lightning strike twice but come 2023 we certainly don’t want to make it the third time.For many, Bio started his stranglehold on our political sphere in 2018.But the reality of course Bio has being in and our of State House from the mid nineties when he betrayed Captain Valentine Strasser and forced him to exile .

    With friends like that , one has to ask the inevitable question :What has Bio got to offer Sierra Leone? A : He is a man on a mission to change his life and his comrades .B: To make promises that he can’t fulfil.C : waste public resources on vanity projects .D All of the the above. If you put down “D “as your final answer you are right on the money .This is a failed president that has nothing to offer Sierra Leone both in the economic and political front .Now the next government has to pick up the pieces of his failures on the promises he made to us back in 2018.Building a national cohesive country by bringing people together,offering quality free education , as Dr Sengeh rudely found out recently , not all that glitters in our education system is gold.

    Despite the spin that Bio likes to remind his international audiences, his quality free education is still work in progress .Today the jury is still out on that one .Under his watch corruption have now become a national security threat.Our roads , hospitals , school buildings ,community centres are not fit for purpose .The energy sectors is in a state of flux.So where do we go from here ? That’s a question for Sierra Leoneans voters to answer .

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