President Bio pays millions of dollars to former president and senior government officials

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 July 2019:

Former president Koroma, former vice president, ministers and senior officials of the previous APC government have today received an inflation bursting windfall from president Julius Maada Bio, amounting to millions of dollars.

This massive windfall is in lieu of their end of service benefits and gratuities, after the Koroma government lost elections held in March last year.

The non-payment of these benefits and gratuities have been regarded by the opposition APC, as a major bone of contention for their party, which is led by former president Koroma.

It is understood that president Bio has decided to make these payments so as to end political tension in the country.

This announcement comes as former President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday received half of his total of 26 security detail who were withdrawn by the police in May this year.

But today’s public statement about the payment has received mixed reviews from Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad.

Many believe that the payment amounts to political bribery. Whilst others say that the opposition APC have blackmailed the president into making this award.

Some policy analysts are questioning how the government could afford to make such huge payment in the face of very high inflation in the country, which is causing severe hardship for millions of ordinary Sierra Leoneans.

Last year president Bio announced major government spending restrictions and austerity measures across all ministries and departments.

This tough fiscal policy has been widely applauded. But today’s payment is bound to dent the president’s image in the eyes of those who have supported his disciplined approach to governance.

“Is president Bio now cosily sleeping with those he has referred to as corrupt?”

That’s the question many SLPP supporters are now asking on social media, after the president’s vow to ensure that former government officials are held to account for hundreds of millions of dollars stolen whilst in office.

President Bio has always maintained that there is no money in the country. He has blamed former president Koroma, his ministers and senior officials of bleeding the country dry through corruption and mismanagement of public funds.

But today, it seems the president has decided to eat his words and re-write the narrative – all in the name of peace and stability in the country.

There are suggestions now that the president should disband the commissions of inquiry that are beginning to sound like toothless bulldogs.

Will today’s inflation bursting payment to the opposition APC lead to the national cohesion that the president has called for?

In today’s announcement from State House, president Bio said a total of Le66.8 Billion is owed to the president, his ministers and senior government official of the previous government. He said that 50% of this amount – Le33.4 Billion will be paid now and the rest to follow at some point.

Where did president Bio find this money to pay the opposition APC? Has he robbed Peter to pay Paul? Is he using part of the $21 Million borrowed from the IMF to build his political capital?

This is what the statement says:

“The Ministry of Finance announces for the information of the general public that the sum of Le33,415,0572, 70 has been disbursed for the payment of severance benefits, gratuities and arrears of pensions to former President, Vice President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and other Political Appointees of the previous Administration.

“The amount disbursed represents 50% of the total amount due as payment of severance benefits and gratuities while arrears due of the monthly pensions have been paid up to 31st May, 2019. Going forward, their monthly pensions from June 2019 will be paid by NASSIT.”

The table below shows a breakdown of payments by category and number of beneficiaries:

Former President & Vice President (2 officials) – amount owed Le6,806,480,697.00 – amount paid now – Le3,403,240,348.50

Former Ministers and Deputy Ministers (59 officials) – amount owed Le36,431,825 ,281.00 – amount paid now Le18 ,2 15,912 , 640.50

Ambassadors & Deputy Ambassasdors , Information & Cultural Attaches (44 officials) – amount owed Le7,277,843,695.00 – amount paid now Le3,638,921,847 .50

Heads of Agencies/Departments (38 officials) – amount owed Le5,721, 130,549.00 – amount paid now Le2,860,565,274.50

Subvented Agencies End of Service Benefits (154 officials) – amount owed Le6,902,150, 987.00 – amount paid now Le3,451 ,075,493.50

Contract Gratuities – Ex-Gratia (74 officials) – amount owed Le3,690,683,331.00 – amount paid now Le1,845 ,341,665.50

Total number of former government officials to receive payment – 371

Total owed by government – Le66,830,114,540.00

Total to be paid now – Le33,415,057,270.00

The government’s statement continues: 

“The public would recall that in 2017, the IMF suspended its engagement with the then Administration due to low domestic revenue collection and slippages in the management of the finances of the State.

“Upon assumption of the leadership of the State, the new Administration prioritized and negotiated a new credible economic programme with the IMF and other development partners, which was approved in November 2018.

“The first review of the good economic track record and performance of Government was successfully completed on June 28, 2019, resulting to immediate disbursement of about US$21.62 million. This immediate disbursement includes direct budget support of US$13.9 million.

“It is worthy for the general public to know that at the time the previous Administration prepared the 2018 Budget, they did not make provisions for the payments of end of service benefits to ex­ President, Vice President, Ministers and Deputies, Diplomats and other political appointments.

“Therefore, these payments, which are part of the 2019 Budget of the new Administration, have been made possible as a result of the disbursement of the US$ l3.9 million by IMF reflecting the good economic performance of the Sierra Leone Government.
The balance 50% of the amount due will be paid in due course.”

Will this payment yield peace and political dividend for president Bio?

Will money succeed where peace talks led by the likes of Helen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and the Inter-Religious Council, have failed? Only time will tell.

23 Comments

  1. Thank you very much Mr. Gabriel Conteh for your views over this matter and I fully respect them. But Chief Sam Sumana embracing former President Ernest Koroma does not mean that he did not accept the ECOWAS COURTS decision or he should not be paid by the government of the day. The case was not against the APC or former President Koroma, but against the government of Sierra Leone in my view. DISCUSS. Thank you very much Gibril and GOD BLESS YOU.

  2. Alimamy Turay you are myopic and die-hardhearted APC supporter despite the abysmal failure of the nearly 11 years rule of your party from 2007-2018 to the detriment and sufferisations of populace under your reign. Leaving the treasury with internal and external debts that the SLPP party has meticulously turned around after EBK predecessor the late Dr Ahmed Tejan Kabbah handed to your party over Le550 billion as excess revenue without any internal debt with an external debt dwindled from over $4.00 billion to less $150million by satisfying stringent Highly Indebted polices for debt cancellations.

    And this payment to your bosses was the reimbursement by the IMF/World bank that your party kicked away from the country under your APC leadership. APC will never rule this country again and the structures that they fraudulently put in place to hang on to power by bastarding the electoral laws that was previously unconstitutional your people, has now make it constitutional.

    What can you say when Christiana Thorpe then unconstitutionally nullify the 550000 voters just to let your APC party to power in 2007? And during your reign you change the electoral laws so that you can hang on to power. And it is these very laws you enacted that is now biting you people very hard.

    • Why don’t they use the reimbursement from the IMF to pay former Vice President Chief Sam Sumana? As a member of ECOWAS, the government of Sierra Leone should just adhere to the decision of the ECOWAS COURTS and pay what is due him from that US$21.62 Million IMF Dollars. PERIOD!

      We will continue to advocate for it until it is paid. Otherwise, Chief Sam Sumana will pay himself when he becomes President. We shall then see what they will say.

    • Mr Senesie Boima Junior, it seems you are an ANGRY MAN, so I am not going to waste time and effort responding to your sarcasm – I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, it might be worthwhile reading my comment and your response to it, again. May be, you might be able to deduce some sense from the two.

  3. This is what is called leadership. Kudos to the new direction led by President Maada Bio. But remember that, the Commission Of Enquiry should not be cancelled, those who ate or missappropiate public funds should suffer the penalties.

  4. Now, sense and good guidance are coming back to the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) inner core. The initial plan-A junta mode of doing things is gradually receding to make way for a democratic way of thinking. One would hope that, this will now be the scheme of things for the life span of this SLPP government – the plan-B option.

    Perhaps President Bio and his inner circle underestimated the democratic sphere that had engulfed the people of Sierra Leone for the past 20 years, or so, since he relinquished his junta rule and made way for a civilian government. This is not 1992 when the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) grabbed power through the barrel of a gun and embarked on the relentless harasssmrnt, intimidation and provocation of the people with liberty.

    This is the 21st century with the advent of innovative technologies that have changed the world into a global village – where information and communication activities are relayed across the world in terms of micro seconds. There is no hiding place for perpetrators of crime and human rights abuses. There are also structures in place, like the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, that has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals or entities for international crimes of genocide, war, humanity and aggression.

    What was the objective of withholding payments, for over a year, in lieu of end of service benefits and gratuities to the former President, Vice President, Ministers and Senior Officials of the previous All Peoples Congres (APC) administration by the present SLPP government? Was this measure designed to bankrupt and decimate the main opposition APC party?

    The sudden reversal of policy in honouring these payments to the respective recipients would be seen by many that the ruling SLPP government is approaching a roadblock in governance, without any clue on which way to turn to, in order to continue their disastrous journey to the destination. They seemed to be lost in the wilderness; and ironically, it is only their arch rival, the APC that would come to their rescue.

    On the part of the APC, they should ensure that there is no improvised road for these ungrateful and opportunistic SLPP villains; and that only a complete U-TURN will suffice. This will entail the re-election of the Speaker of the House of Parliament, the reinstatement of the 10 APC members of parliament who lost their seats due to a fraudulent petition, an assurance for the complete return of democratic principles in parliament, and other host of irregularities introduced by this controversial SLPP government.

    Now that the ball is in APC’s court, they should play the game accordingly in order to preserve the well-earned democracy of the people. The people of Sierra Leone did not vote for any totalitarian government. They voted for democracy; and democracy must prevail.

  5. Yes, yes, yes! Money is speaking, money in control, yes money, money everywhere but no………………4 the …………..? Yes it is their constitutional right. That is the message this payment is giving. You can see their last teeth beyond their molars and even beyond, very clearly.

    Money has always been their target and not the target of the country. Yes they can laugh, which is also their right. Thank you president JMB. You are a great leader. The leader that believes in the constitution of the republic of Sierra Leone. The one that believes in law and order. The one that believes that under his leadership Salone go betteh. The leader who does not believe in tribalism, nepotism, regionalism but believes in mama Salone.

    I hope this piece of mine answers Sahr Matturi’s concern in reminding president Bio to respect the decision of the ecowas court. Our president is a great respecter of the rule of law and committed to ecowas as our regional body. The therefore needn’t be reminded about that. The commissions of inquiry continue.

  6. I always write a Little but the main and important issues and points. A second House is needed in Sierra Leone parliament wherein retired civil servants , credible former ministers and parliamentarians, credible religious leaders , paramount chiefs, mayors from the main districts and even former ex-presidents should participate in building our nation.

    Many Sierra Leoneans see this payment as a waste of state revenue. Some say it will increase the level of corruption in the country.But to me I believe that when someone knows that his service isn’t terminated after five or ten years as a parliamentarian / minister he can work towards the interest of the state.

    One example: In the west no one reduces his age to stay in his place of work because retirement age is an age of pleasure, but in Africa people reduce their age not to reach retirement because when one retires in Africa he becomes a beggar. But viewing these payments that are said to been made by this present government, is not what future governments will be doing to their predecessors?

    • Hello. Only a small comment. Times are changing. The rich becoming more and more richer, the poor more poorer, worldwide, especially in Africa and parts of Asia, but also in Germany. Ok although we have a functional social system here, more older people can’t live from their pension alone. Some still have to work, mostly in small mini jobs always on the edge of the minimum existence. Believe me there is no pleasure after retirement.

  7. I don’t get the point concerning the benefits of the Vice Presidents under the former APC government. Does the amount in question for both Vice Presidents under the former APC administration? Secondly, what about the payment that the Sierra Leone government owed the former Vice President Chief Sam Sumana?

    The Bio administration must respect the decision of the ECOWAS courts. Justice must be done in favour of Chief Sam Sumana. ECOWAS has most recently made a similar decision in favour of former First Lady Nancy Doe. The Weah administration has promised to act swiftly on the decision.

    Why doesn’t the Bio administration want to take action on the recommendations of the ECOWAS COURTS and put this embarrassing and disgraceful issue to rest? Will it not be utter disgrace and disgust if the Weah administration of Liberia implements the Nancy Doe ECOWAS COURTS decision before the ECOWAS COURTS decision of Chief Sam Sumana?

    I hope President Bio will pay attention and implement the ECOWAS COURTS decision in favour of Chief Sam Sumana forthwith.

    Thank you very much in advance President Bio for according justice to Chief Sam Sumana. GOD BLESS YOU Mr. President.

    • Sahr Matturi, with all due respect, I will advise that Samuel Sam Sumana not pursue said payment from the government of Sierra Leone. The man has since that judgement from ECOWAS courts embraced former president Ernest Koroma, who was named in Sam Sumana’s suit, and told him to let bygones be bygones. Why would Sam Sumana make a u-turn and ask the government of Sierra Leone to make any payments to him?

      By embracing Ernest Koroma in full view of the public, Sam Sumana implicitly agreed that his firing by the former president was justified. And before I forget, Sam Sumana is not considered by the government of Sierra Leone a retired vice president. He is a sacked president who is not entitled to any end of career benefits. GAME OVER.

  8. HE Helen Johnson-Sirleaf former President of Liberia should be commended for her wise counsel in this matter during her recent visit for that “Peace and National Cohesion Conference”.

    • On what grounds should Victor Bockarie Foe be given benefits and pension when he was never elected, but was taken from the blues and imposed on the people of SALONE.

  9. Come on guys! You all are acting like you have seen something strange or like the Bio government is doing a favor to the previous administration. For me,I see it differently. If these payments are service benefits,gratuities,pensions as the author outlines it,and is meant for people that suppose to have it,then so be it.Those who are entitled to it should have it.period! Besides it is the right thing to do.

    The current administration believes that,payments to these individuals is a must and it should be done.I see nothing wrong with it.It is neither a political bribery nor a means to settle dispute between Apc and slpp…if it is the right thing to do,why not do it?…I just wonder what the forcing and fighting over it all this while was all about,when the Bio govt knows too well what the reality is all about…

    • Brilliant thoughts Mr. Sulaiman S Jalloh. It was, as you said, the right thing to do. When you work, you must be paid. PERIOD.
      Every peace loving and good hearted Sierra Leonean must see this as a welcome news. Such a decision by President Bio was long overdue. ENJOY your hard work and GOD given EMOLUMENTS folks.

      Thanks for your analysis Mr. Sulaiman S Jalloh and GOD BLESS YOU.

    • I agree. They should be paid. But they should still be held responsible for mismanagement of the people’s money. If Bio is smart, the government will take all the money back from them.

  10. For some people this is fantastic. They can say that today, but as for me this shows a weakness of the President. It does not even show like this man is a former military leader. I am totally disappointed at him. Now we are waiting for the next move. Koroma APC bankrupted this country; and I believe from today, the Commission of Inquiry (COI) is over.

    Let Mr. Francis B. Keifala get ready to leave the country and become an Ambassador to one of the western countries. I am totally disappointed at the president. This is a blunder.

    • Sir, I really dont see the rationale behind this payment. But I think he has a strategy. I hope he does. But if not, yes it shows a sign of weakness. It is a disappointment from someone wanting to change corruption. So, let’s wait and see.

  11. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s….This is the bitter side of democracy and we as a Nation must be prepared to carry the burden. I only hope that the political agitators, especially those in the APC would realize that to be in the opposition is not only making noise but also carries with it responsibility towards country and people.

    If we want to be a law abiding and democratic State, then we must obey the rules that governs it! Let them get their benefits but if it’s proven that some of them misused or embezzled Government money, then they must be punished.

  12. Good evening. For me this is a very good and surprising news. Yes, that’s a lot of money. Maybe, and this my hope, the former president, the vice president, the other ministers, I believe all are not poor people, can take part of this money to invest in projects in Sierra Leone to reduce unemployment in the country.

  13. Why would anyone refer to these payments as “windfalls”? These are end of service and pension entitlements and nothing else.

    In fact, they are long overdue but the recipients themselves should be quite understanding, having been aware of the national budgetary situation. However, the thrust of this article is quite misleading.

  14. FANTASTIC STUFF and exciting times. Sierra Leone is on the right track and on the road to Unity and National Cohesion. The ball is now in the court of the APC to give some kind of response.

    President Bio, COMMANDER IN CHIEF of Sierra Leone ARMED forces, Fountain head of HONOUR and JUSTICE and FATHER of the NATION have today answered to our calls by putting the EXTREMISTS of his party aside and doing the right thing.
    When you have personalities like Mr. Tamba Lamina. Dr. Kai Kai, Patricia Laverley and Dr. Francis in the NUCLEUS of decision making of President Bio’s agenda, this is the result you get. Peace and prosperity all the way.

    If these moderate and progressive PERSONALITIES were in the NUCLEUS of the Bio Administration policies from the start, then things would have been much better by now. This is not only a POLITICAL victory for President Bio, but a NATIONAL victory that will pave the way for a political dialogue.

    I might be considering accepting a job on the Bio administration because of this decision. Thinking about that. To all those who have been given justice, I say ENJOY. We have been putting the pressure everywhere to persuade the government to change course on the sacking and blocking of the benefits and salaries of past government officials and employees. Now, God has brought the time. PRAISE BE TO GOD and PRAISE BE TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.

    Thank you President Bio and all those who helped the President come to this conclusion. To be honest, if elections should have been held today, I would have voted SLPP and for President Bio. However, President Bio has my vote for this day. Thank you all and may GOD BLESS YOU ALL. AMEN AND AMEN.

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