President Bio seeks financial aid from China – Sierra Leone’s economy on brink of collapse

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 February 2024:

Sierra Leone’s economy is on the brink of collapse as government revenue continues to fall, after years of government’s failure to bring in vital private investments into key high-growth potential sectors of the economy, including agriculture, agro-processing, and fish farming.

After decades of unfulfilled promises to diversify the country’s economy, Sierra Leone’s low export earnings continues to hamper government’s ability to generate much needed revenue from taxation receipts to help pay public sector workers’ salaries, private contractors, and meet its monthly debt repayment obligations.

Hundreds of Billion of Leones have been reported mssing in government ministries, departments and agencies. President Bio has failed to stop what he once referred to as “leakages”, as corruption in high places worsens.

Whiles government spending continues to grow exponentially, there is little sign of hope for substantial economic growth on the horizon.

The government is facing an economic meltdown. Its over-reliance on income from mining exports, faces huge setbacks, whilst global demand for iron ore and other base metals continues to remain weak.

Sierra Rutile Ltd., one of the country’s largest employers and high export earners, few weeks ago suspended production, following a mining contract dispute with the government. The company employs over 2,000 people in Sierra Leone.

Western nations are refusing to bankroll the Bio-led government, due to suspicions about lack of transparency and accusations of abuse of power and poor governance.

Today President Bio is in China hoping he can strike a better deal with the Chinese to take over the rutile mining contact which is currently held by Iluka Resources of Australia.

But such a deal will come at a very high cost to the government of Sierra Leone in terms of credibility, adherence to the rule of law, and huge financial penalties the government is likely to face in payout to Iluka Resources.

According to State House Report, President Bio and First Lady Fatima Bio arrived in China for a three-days State Visit, on the invitation of the President Xi Jinping, “with the aim of strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations,” a euphemism for lucrative mining deals in return for huge cash handout to Sierra Leone’s president Bio.

“During their time in China, President Bio is expected to hold meetings with high-ranking officials in Government including the Premier of China, His Excellency Li Qiang and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Zhao Leji.

“President Bio and First Lady Fatima Bio will be graciously hosted by President Xi Jinping and the two leaders will engage in official talks to discuss areas of mutual cooperation. As part of the State Visit, there will be a Roundtable Investment Forum, which will bring together numerous investors and representatives from organizations such as the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

“President Bio will have the honour of delivering the keynote address and engage with investors and companies on the margins of the Forum. The State Visit will culminate in the conferment of an honorary doctorate degree upon President Bio by the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan Province.

“President Bio’s visit will, therefore, further strengthen the bond of friendship between both countries as the President seeks sustainable and strategic partnerships for the Government’s BIG 5 Priority Development Agenda,” State House media reports today.

1 Comment

  1. The Chinese are known not to ask too many questions when it comes to foreign investment, but even they are bound to be cautious of a Bio government that is devoid of credibility both locally and internationally. All but in name, the entire Western world have turned their back on the government, seeing it as illegitimate, with the 24th of June 2023 elections being the reference point.

    Nothing is lost to the Chinese, they see how the Americans have held back from parting with almost half a billion dollars to the Bio government in the name of the Millennium Challenge, they see how how Bio keep slaughtering opponents, they see how divided the country is (tribally and regionally), they see how senior army officers have been unceremoniously dismissed based on their tribe, they are aware that Bio could be indicted by ICC at any moment which could make him an internationally wanted criminal.

    With the Chinese being a calculating people their ultimate inference is likely to be that Sierra Leone is a time bomb whose fuse is getting shorter by the split second. The chances are that they will send Bio back home with a suitcase of intentions and promises never to be fulfilled in the near future as they engage in a wait and see game with a desperate Bio,who managed to avoid confronting the ICC Prosecutor who is currently in Freetown.

    There is something else Bio ought to know: China and the United States may be at loggerheads in the open all the time, but there are certain things where they allow expediency to carry the day, especially in the super secret world of intelligence. In short, they cooperate to avoid certain pitfalls. After all the US and Russia cooperate in space – don’t they?

    Until recent times the Russian Soyuz spacecraft was the only way to reach the International Space Station carrying both American and Russian astronauts. Has the point sunk ? The Chinese must be giggling that the president of a cash strapped nation transverses the world on a hired jet. The irony could not be more stark and obvious.

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