Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 June 2018:
Since the end of the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, successive governments have made little effort to fully implement the country’s State Enterprises Privatisation Strategy, which was drawn up with the assistance of the World Bank and DFID.
Dogged by political interference, incompetence and corruption, the National Commission for Privatisation (NCP) is facing serious challenges.
There are many state-owned enterprises and public institutions that are costing the government far more than the revenue they generate annually. They are inefficient, poorly managed and a drain on public funds. The government has no money and is looking to generate funds, without raising taxes or increase public borrowing.
Critics have called for the Boards of several of these institutions to be dissolved. Others have gone one step further, calling for them to be privatised. Will president Bio take the brave decision to sell off these loss making state-owned enterprises to raise funds?
Last Thursday, 7th June 2018, the newly appointed Chairman of the National Commission for Privatisation – Umaru Napoleon Koroma, took over from his predecessor – Sulaiman Kabba Koroma. But will it be business as usual?
Napoleon has a lot of work to do to help the Bio led government fully implement its Privatisation Strategy. He is the national secretary general of the SLPP party and a qualified lawyer.
Taking over from the outgoing chairman, Napoleon said: “The bonds that bind us together should be greater than those that divide us,” after receiving a detailed handing-over report from his predecessor, Sulaiman Kabba Koroma at the Commission’s Conference Room, Lotto Building, Tower Hill.
According to press statement released by the NCP, the outgoing chairman spoke highly of Napoleon Koroma (Photo), whom he described as a disciplined and result oriented individual. “I believe the President did not make any mistake in appointing someone like him and I definitely believe he can perform…”
Mr. Sulaiman Kabba Koroma advised the new Chairman to always take cognisance of the legality of any action or policy he wishes to implement. This he said, has been a major reason for his successful tenure at the commission. But critics are questioning his so called success.
Rather than shed light on the range of state-owned enterprises and institutions that could be sold off by the government to raise much needed funds to pay for health, education, electricity and water provision, the outgoing chairman advised his successor to focus specifically on the NCP Act, which gives the commission greater powers to directly supervise the affairs of Public Enterprises under it’s purview. This has to change.
Responding, Mr Napoleon Koroma expressed gratitude to President Julius Maada Bio for the confidence he has reposed in him. He expressed gratitude to his predecessor and pledged to religiously go through the report handed over to him as a sure way of learning the intricacies of running the Commission.
“It is reassuring to have someone from the political divide taking his time to formally hand over or give account of his stewardship in a very important institution like the NCP……This, by all indication is a strong testament to our growing democratic culture and political tolerance,” said Napoleon.
Napoleon must now produce a list of all State Enterprises and institutions that have the potential to be privatised, as soon as possible, for the president’s approval.