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comes as former President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday received half of his total of 26 security detail who were withdrawn by the police in May this year.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

7 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.