Government of Sierra Leone struggles to pay salaries of public sector workers

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 February 2020:

A statement published yesterday by Sierra Leone’s ministry of finance, speaks volumes about the government’s ability and  claims that it is successfully balancing its finances, through what it calls ‘cash budgeting’ – meaning that it is paying its bills including staff costs with the cash it collects from taxes.

This clearly is not true. The government is still borrowing and receiving donor aid to help meet the costs of running the affairs of State and delivery of public services, and yet struggling to pay the salaries of public sector workers.

Equally true, is the fact that the cost of servicing of pubic debt left behind by the former government and now also being incurred by the present government, amounts to about 30% of government’s expenditure each month, with 60% of what remains being spent on paying the wages and salaries of ministers and all public sector employees.

In the last few days, there have been uneasiness among public sector workers, complaining about the government’s failure to pay their January salary. Since receiving their last pay-cheque, just before Christmas in December, most public sector workers are yet to receive their January salary.

Yesterday, finance minister JJ Saffa published a statement saying that salaries for the month of January have as of yesterday, been paid. He also confirmed that because of the government’s huge monthly public debt commitment, the government is having difficulty paying salaries and meet its financial obligations to contractors..

But if salaries have been paid on time in previous months, then what has changed in government’s prioritisation of its finances?

Most people would say that in the last three months the government’s foreign travel costs have skyrocketed because of the increasing number of foreign visits made by the president, his wife and their very large entourage.

The question that must be asked therefore, is whether the government has prioritised foreign travel over the payment of public sector workers salaries as well as public contractors – an all too familiar failing of the previous government, for which they paid a heavy price at the polls in 2018.

The cost of the government’s foreign travel last year ran into Billions of Leones, which could have been set aside to pay public sector workers salaries and other essential budgetary requirements.

When this government came into office in 2018, it immediately announced a series of stringent financial austerity measures, aimed at curbing excessive and unnecessary government spending which president Bio referred to as ‘leakages’.

But now it seems that the president has lapsed into business as usual, with those leakages originating from State House itself.

Millions of Sierra Leoneans, up and down the country, are tightening their belts and making sacrifices in response to the very tough economic challenges facing the country. Inflation is rising, the value of the Leone continues to fall as export revenue from mining declines. Businesses are struggling to survive because of very high interest rates and poor sales.

It must therefore be seen as a travesty, for the government to compound the economic malaise crippling poor households, with the non-payment of public sector workers’ salaries.

The government must itself abide by the fiduciary management standards of good governance that it preaches, if it is to win the confidence of investors, and continue to enjoy the goodwill of the people.

This is the statement issued by the minister of information:


  1. I have been an avid reader of the Sierra Leone Telegraph since its inception in 2009, and I am SLPP. What I can say is that the editor and owner – Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas (ART) is neither SLPP, APC, nor NGC, or any political party in Sierra Leone. He criticises and applauds bad and good policies and political behaviour as he sees it.

    This is clear from the thousands of articles that he has published for us to read. And this is what I like about coming time and again to the Sierra Leone Telegraph: One day you will read a bad story about my SLPP government, and next day you read about a good piece of work the SLPP government is doing. We saw this same approach to his writing when APC were in power – he praised one day, and criticised heavily the next. He even called for regime change, as well as encouraged NGC to go into coalition with SLPP to knock out APC from power. Remarkable.

    For those of us who are fairminded, we can safely say that ART’s true colour is one of nonpartisanship. Keep it up ART and dont lsiten to my rabble rousing colleagues! Lol

  2. Indeed,there is no Good news like Bad SLPP news.(lol)Friends,we are now on the edges of a cliff,witnessing ineptitude in governance, in its shocking,worst,and most deplorable forms. Thriftiness in spending,also know as Prudent economics,is the only known reliable tool that is capable of wrenching our struggling,corrupt nation,out of the clutches of demoralising despair,while at the same time,unloosening the firm, grips of abject, depressing, poverty.

    This government is full of men barking off the wrong trees;pursuers of the wayward,unruly wind,they are,who enjoy chasing wild geese, and dismal shadows of themselves in the quietness of night.(lol)Predators,Con men,and tricksters,who use money, influence,and power to hunt down the fragile, poor,and the weak. A Hangman,with a cruel noose,and JJ Saffa,are one and the same – one wicked fellow uses a rope to brutalise,and strangle poor people,the other,his merciless,I’ll advised, suffocating, regressive ideas, principles,and policies.

    How can anyone be surprised to hear that this cash strapped government is struggling to pay the salaries of public workers?They are chasing investors away,recklessly,and extravagantly overspending allocated budgets,wasting meagre,and scanty revenues on idle,fruitless traveling,in search of Investors that briefly appear,out of nowhere,like mists,and mirages in the desert,only to vanish quickly again.(lol)

    What other outcome do you caterpillars really expect? In my opinion,anyone lacking the skills,abilities,and good sense of judgement to solve our many problems,who cannot find ways to use their creativity, ingenuity,and God given talents productively,should he sacked. For someone,anyone gobbling huge salaries monthly,not to be able to sustain,and maintain the responsibilities,credibility,and integrity of any government is totally unacceptable. All these Professors,munching and crunching salaries,and they still cannot,are not able to readily,and effectively meet their financial commitments,and obligations,like paying legit contractors,and the hard earned salaries of public workers on time.

    Easy to see,these men,and women do not belong in the offices they are currently holding.Yep,they must hit the Road Asap!They should all be sacked! JJ the Hang man Saffa ,Dr Sandy,and the Chief minister need to go now…they are all a bunch of freeloading good for nothings.(lol) Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  3. “When this government came into office in 2018, it immediately announced a series of stringent financial austerity measures, aimed at curbing excessive and unnecessary government spending which President Bio referred to as ‘leakages’. But now it seems that the President has lapsed into business as usual, with those leakages originating from State House itself.”

    It appears, the President should go back and review the schematics of his economic system. What he calls ‘leakages’ are actually ‘wastes’. Waste in any economic system is utilizing resources, including time, without thinking of any marginal return – or simply without thinking of the benefit for the extra effort expended. In fact, such an outlook breaks the fundamental principle of targeting efficiency levels in production.

    In the same context, a ‘leakage’ can be interpreted as an inflated payment of goods and services without guidelines and stringent controls for transparency and accountability, and as well as ‘value for money’. Thereby creating conditions including: bribery and corruption, devaluing of the local currency, and at best, economic stagnation – as resources are entrapped in the ‘underground’ or ‘black’ market of the economy, which will culminate in the process of siphoning resources from the system.

    Thus, evidently Sierra Leone is a very rich but poor country. And the relics of its ‘leakages’ can be found all over the world – from The Gambia to the United States and Europe. Everywhere! Without any degree of uncertainty, both phenomena are currently operating in the ‘new direction’ SLPP government.

    The President has been all over the world without much thought of the marginal return of his travels – which is presently flipping on zero – a clear manifestation of waste of resources amid a void passage of time. Are there no other options, ideas or innovations that the President can pursue in other to be rewarded accordingly for his extra effort? Results. Or is it perhaps, the whole essence of the President’s extraordinary travels is attributed to a blatant display of vanity?

    Furthermore, and contrary to the ‘new direction’ SLPP assumption of rebranding the country into a transparent and accountable entity, the party is implicitly drowned deep into the muddy waters of corruption. The mysterious disappearance of US$1.5 million from the personal account of the Chief Minister, Dr David Francis, at Eco Bank; the ‘Chinagate’ affair in which the Chief Minister is also directly implicated; the misappropriation of over US$14 million of tax payers money in the accounting period ending December 2018; the unauthorised overspending of millions of dollars by the Finance Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, without any supporting proof of detailed transactions incurred … are all serious instances of rampant leakages from the economic system.

    All these reckless ‘wastes’ and ‘leakages’ can be seen as lost input energy intended for optimum propulsion of the economic engine at any point in time. The problem with Africa is, certain Leaders still believe they are god-sent individuals, and therefore have been accorded with the licence to thrill as idols; forgetting the fact that, in today’s economic climate, they are merely mandated (just as Chief Executive Officers – CEOs) to deliver to the ‘shareholders’ – and in this respect, the populace.

  4. I just want Mr. Joe Koroma to know that, I am not prepared for any personal attacks on this platform any more. How many times have I asked Mr. Joe Koroma on this platform if he is OK? He never replied. Now, he is asking me if i am OK. I think, it will be better for Mr. Joe Koroma to ask himself that question.

    All I am interested in now, is to let the world know how disciplined people supporting the APC are. Also, we want to get our message out there with discipline. Engaging in personal attacks will be a distraction. So, no time for that right now. Discipline and political maturity is one of the very important credentials to bring investors and investment in Sierra Leone.

    People like Mr. Joe Koroma, somewhere on planet earth, will not push me to become rude on a very glorious platform like this one, with over 26,000 people reading per day if I’m not mistaken. So, all of Mr. Joe Koroma’s comment is not for me but, for the birds in my view. Maybe, the birds will have interest in returning fire. Not Meee!

    Again, Mr. Joe Koroma somewhere there, trying to make me take notice of his sadness, over the horrible and disastrous failure of his party to deliver after two years of catastrophic political miscalculations and policies. God help Mr Joe Koroma prepare his failed party for 2023 elections defeat.

  5. Indeed. The President is ready to lead but, the salaries of public officials were not paid on time. Frankly speaking, this government is now a “hand to mot” regime and thus, struggling to meet its financial commitments. Is bankruptcy in sight? Does the Bio Administration know, they need around four billion dollars investment to help get the country out of this mess? Why is the administration failing to reach out to the APC who have the support and backing of investors with billions of dollars? I know that and so does the SLPP. Sometimes, it’s better to hold your nose and ask for help. Even if your butts are being kicked does not matter.

    Lots of unnecessary travels, many ministers, corrupt special advisers, corruption allover and big government ideology with the investors saying “bye bye for now”, is plunging our country further into this excellent mess and bankruptcy. What an unfortunate economic and financial super mess orchestrated by the reckless financial policies of this administration. God bless our public servants and free them from this “hand to mot” government in 2023. To be continued.

    • “Why is the administration failing to reach out to the APC who have the support and backing of investors with billions of dollars?” Sahr Matturi.

      Sahr Matturi, are you okay? I am starting to get worried about your state of mind. I have noticed your exuberance ever since the crooked Samuel Samsumana returned to the APC. This has forced you to make up stories no matter how stupid they sound.

      Why didn’t the APC use the investments of your phantom billion dollar investors to rescue it from the abys of bankruptcy that it drove Sierra Leone into? Was it necessary for Ernest Koroma, his family, and friends to raid Sierra Leone Commercial Bank at a rate unprecedented in the history of Africa if there were billion dollar investors that could have been called upon to invest in Sierra Leone? I was once told that if you are telling a lie, please attach some truth to it. LOL!!!

      I advice you to temper your exuberance relative to the APC for the following reasons:

      1. There is no serious-minded APC official that will look at a Timber thief like Samsumana and vote for him for APC flagbearer. Who doesn’t know that Samsumana was caught on tape by AL-Jazeera’s journalists negotiating a shady and crooked timber deal in his office? Is this the filcher and rogue that will be president of Sierra Leone? God forbid. I predict that when APC gives Samsumana a second JAMAWASS, you and your boss (Samsumana) will end up returning to the C4C in frustration before the 2023 elections.

      2. It does not matter who the flagbearer of the APC is in 2023. President Bio will win by a landslide. There will be no runoff presidential elections in 2023.

  6. I just wonder why didn’t the writer made mention of the software glitch that the minister talked about in his press release?
    PLEASE mr Author, next time include all facts from both sides of the isle, so that readers can make a thorough and accurate judgment…And by the way, Madam bintu Koroma, did I hear you say Sierra Leone is now supplying fuel to Liberia? If true, I just hope Salone has enough for its inhabitants first before sharing out to her neighbour.

  7. OMG!!! If I had read this article and not read the press release from the Ministry of Finance, I would have thought that the Government of Sierra Leone was on the verge of bankruptcy. The Ministry of Finance’s press release clearly states the reasons why there was a slight delay in payment of salaries in January. Paramount among these reasons were technical systems challenges at the end of January. Why didn’t the writer wait until the end of February to see if the problem continues before pouncing on the government with the sensational headline “Government of Sierra Leone struggling to pay salaries of public sector workers?”

    Such a sensational headline makes more sense when applied to George Weah’s Liberia than to Maada Bio’s Sierra Leone. I spent the month of December 2019 in Liberia and Sierra Leone and my experiences in both countries forced me to utter the words, “God bless Sierra Leone.” For those who do not know, Sierra Leone is now supplying fuel to Liberia. How about that?

    Those who think that Bio should govern Sierra Leone their way are in for a rude shock. The president is determined to lead Sierra Leone to sustainable growth and development and he is going to do it his way. So, no amount of idle criticisms relative to his foreign travels is going to stop him.

    And for the KAPU KAPU NGC who now want to have a say in governance, I say that you had all the time in the world to join the SLPP during the runoffs to the 2018 elections but you refused. So please stay in your lane. In Sierra Leone, it is winner takes all. LONTA!!!

    • Bintu Koroma, does the time period really matter in signalling a state of bankruptcy? I think what the article (or title) is saying is: the Balance Sheet – or current snapshot of the economy in Sierra Leone – is not looking pretty good. And that the probability of the government not defaulting by the end of February, or even later, is slim. I don’t think many are interested in how Maada Bio steers the economy – as long as the goods are delivered safely and on time. People are tired of waiting for promises to transform into miracles.

  8. This is not the frist time; this problem already existed since…. That’s why Sierra Leone needs to be supported as well as other Western States. Sierra Leone played a vital role in the developing of the world economy: Diamond, gold, coffee, cacao etc…. So when will the west be ready to compensate Sierra Leone.

    • What do they owe us to compensate us for, Mr. Bah? My understanding is that the west is not indebted to us for parts we may have played in their economy. And to use the trading of unearthed resources as leverage to back your argument would be a disadvantage to you if the aim is to make a sound case. I say this because the mining and trading of unearthed resources is usually a contractual agreement, where money issues and all incentives concerning the deal is resolved in the signing of the contract. So in that sense, I believe that the west has adhered to its trading/mining responsibility. Now, whether or not those deals were dealt fairly is a whole separate case, in and of itself.

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