PUAWUI Dr Sama Banya: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 February 2020:
From a Bank surplus and debit free environment, the economy began to tumble soon after the Ebola crisis and a decreased demand for iron ore. Sierra Leone’s economy which had been rated as one of the fastest growing in Africa ( although it hadn’t been trickling down to the people) almost took a nosedive. From the proceedings of the Commissions of Inquiry, the reasons are not far to fathom.
The APC government was spending as if there would never be wet months or a tomorrow. People In positions of responsibility had their hands deep in the cookie pot, with impunity.
The President did all kinds of “India rope trick,” including musical chairs of moving his ministers and people dealing with our finances. None of the manoeuvres yielded the desired result.
Then the government formally introduced an austerity budget with stringent financial controls, or so it announced – including a freeze on new recruitment.
It reneged on all the measures it had agreed with the IMF and with itself, even before the ink was dry on the paper.
For example it surreptitiously recruited some 35 new personnel – mostly its supporters, into the Foreign Service through the back door.
At the end of the stipulated two years there was no statement as to the success or otherwise of its austerity measures.
Then came the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2018 which had been delayed by a year because the government was busy manipulating how to extend the length of the Presidential period; it included veiled steps to amend the constitution in order to accommodate their nefarious plans.
Statistics Sierra Leone released unrealistic increases in the population of certain areas, following which new administrative districts and new constituencies were created, all in a bid to give the APC an electoral advantage. To their uttermost dismay, things turned out differently.
Then stepped in President Julius Maada Bio and his New Direction agenda of human resource development, including Free Quality Education, improve an extended health care, and increased food Security.
There is a gestation period for even the most well-conceived and well planned programmes. With all the goodwill in the world, these take time and will never multiply like the Ebola or the current devastating coronavirus from Wuhan City of China.
In the meantime the people are going through very difficult times. There is no gainsaying about that. The ‘gron dry’ or the ground is very dry and almost arid. But the irony of this situation is that without any qualms the APC opposition have put the blame at the doors of the Bio administration.
In addition to hoping that the situation will deteriorate, they are using negative propaganda and falsehood to frighten prospective investors to the country as if the country is unstable and dangerous.
But their negative and destructive propaganda notwithstanding, there is today not only a light at the end of the tunnel, but a glow in the horizon.
Yes, both the World Bank, the IMF and the international community in general have expressed optimism in Sierra Leone’s economic outlook in both short term and in the future.
Umaru. Fofana is not just another pen pusher journalist but one who has acquired international reputation for himself. I have on occasions criticised his “herd instinct” when it comes to protecting some errant members of his profession. But who can fault his recent interview with the visiting deputy Managing Director of the IMF. It was vintage strong medicine. And in it the IMF expressed cautious optimism at the direction that President Bio and his team are moving in relation to our future prospects.
Tears may be present now but soon there will be smiles on the face of the common man.