Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 February 2019:
Yesterday, Thursday 7 February 2019, president Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, signed performance contract with each of his cabinet ministers, holding them accountable for the governance of their ministries and to ensure that key priorities laid down in his New Direction programme are achieved.
The ministerial performance contract monitoring process will be managed by the Office of the Chief Minister, headed by professor David Francis.
Speaking about the ministerial performance contracts, chief minister Francis said that the aim is to hold ministers and their deputies accountable to the people of Sierra Leone, and for the confidence reposed in them by the president who has graciously appointing them to their respective roles.
He said ministerial performance management would ensure and strengthen effective public service delivery, that would positively impact the lives of the people.
Public leaders – Francis said, are entrusted with the responsibility of delivering public services, and that by signing the ministerial performance contract, a culture of service delivery responsiveness will be established and maintained.
“This contract will improve Government’s effectiveness in service delivery, develop a culture of accountability and trust in the public sector, transform the negative image of public servants and political leaders through performance and delivery, create value for money and a clear understanding of incentives and sanctions for service delivery,” he said.
President Bio said that yesterday’s signing of ministerial performance contract is a milestone in the long journey to making Sierra Leone a better place for everyone.
He said that during his campaign, he had pledged to effectively deliver services to the people of the country, which he is now doing through his ministers.
“I want us to deliver tangible results that will have impact on the lives of Sierra Leoneans. Most Sierra Leoneans had lost trust in government but as a new government we are changing that narrative now and I need you all to show leadership in your respective ministries. Together, we can deliver on our mandate to the people of this country,” president Bio said.
The signing of ministerial performance contract by a president is nothing new in Sierra Leone.
Step back ten years, ministerial performance contracts signed by former president Ernest Bai Koroma with his ministers had failed to achieve any meaningful result.
Failed, incompetent and corrupt ministers were kept in government by president Koroma.
Instead of running Sierra Leone like a business enterprise – as he promised the people of Sierra Leone in 2007, government ministries and departments became gravy trains under the Koroma regime.
Self-serving public officials helped themselves and their families and friends to state funds and resources at the expense of the poor.
Lack of accountability, corruption, mismanagement of public services and poor prioritisation of programmes, resources and budgets, have kept the people of Sierra Leone in abject poverty for several decades.
With an economy largely driven by donor funds and a struggling mining industry, the need for diversification of the country’s economy is crucial, if jobs are to be created and poverty tackled.
Sierra Leone is still ranked as one of the poorest nations on earth, with one of the worst adult life expectancy rates in Africa – at just 47 years, due to poor healthcare, poverty, poor sanitation, and illiteracy.
Over 2 million working age adults are unemployed in Sierra Leone. They are now looking up to president Bio to create job opportunities. The private sector is still in a state of flux, despite enormous potential for growth. Too much money going into government – taking away investment capital from private firms.
President Bio has promised to change all that. He said he is fighting corruption on all fronts, and so far, there are successes. His strict public financial management approach, based on a single budget monitoring system, is helping the fight against corruption and better management of public finances.
With yesterday’s signing of ministerial performance contracts, president Bio is hoping to hold ministers accountable for budget allocations and spending across departments. Will he succeed?
The key question is whether under-performing ministers and those found to be corrupt under his leadership – that have been appointed to office because of their role in helping the president win the 2018 elections, will be sacked and not simply rotated into other key positions in cabinet reshuffles.
People voted for change in March 2018. They are now looking up to president Bio to deliver that change.