President Koroma’s final push to sway voters – but is it all too late?

13 November 2012

Presidential and general elections are just four days away and the government of president Koroma has issued a press statement, aimed at convincing the people of Sierra Leone that its five years in office have been exemplary. But will the voters be convinced?

The statement from the office of the chief of staff at State House, simply titled; “Sierra Leone achieves record marks” says:

“The Government of Sierra Leone is pleased to inform the general public, development partners, civil society groups and the media that on November 7th 2012 Sierra Leone passed the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) scorecard for the first time since the international ratings initiative was established in 2004.”

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a bilateral United States foreign aid agency established by Congress in 2004, applying a new philosophy toward foreign aid. It is an independent agency, separate from the State Department or USAID.

A country is considered eligible for a compact (aid grant) if its score on 17 indicators exceeds the median score of its peer group. All 17 indicators are compiled by third parties with no connection to MCC.

The MCC grants are made without politics entering the equation. This is perhaps the most innovative aspect of MCC, as previous foreign aid missions were plagued by political considerations. The focus of the MCC is to promote economic growth in the recipient countries.

But many analysts believe that poverty has worsened in Sierra Leone, and that government’s effort in developing the private sector and diversify the economy has been a failure.  

The Bush administration, which established the fund stated in 2004 that development aid works better in countries with good economic policies, such as free markets and low corruption.

According to the Koroma government’s statement; “To be eligible for the larger amounts of funding – known as a compact – a country must pass half the indicators. For the first time since the MCC was launched in 2004, Sierra Leone has achieved this important landmark by passing 12 indicators. Until this year, Sierra Leone’s highest pass rate was 7 indicators.”

“The huge jump in Sierra Leone’s scorecard this year means Sierra Leone is now ranked in joint fourth (4th) position in the West Africa sub-region, passing more indicators than Benin, Gambia, Mali, Liberia, Nigeria, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea” – says State House.

The government says that; “Sierra Leone passed the following important indicators: Regulatory Quality, Trade Policy, Gender in the Economy, Access to Credit, Health Expenditures, Immunization Rates, Girls’ Primary Education Completion Rate, Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Freedom of Information, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption.”

“This outstanding achievement comes against the background of the Government’s efforts to promote an all-round sustainable development in the country.

“Sierra Leone’s dedication to improving its MCC scorecard was coordinated by the Policy Benchmarking Desk in the Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) at State House, with assistance provided by the US Embassy in Freetown. State House would like to commend the participation of all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) and the support of our assessor institutions.”

Sierra Leone Telegraph Editor’s Note:

The MCC  indicators are as follows:

Civil Liberties – Ruling Justly 

Political Rights – Ruling Justly 

Voice and Accountability – Ruling Justly 

Government Effectiveness – Ruling Justly 

Rule of Law – Ruling Justly 

Control of Corruption – Ruling Justly 

Immunization Rate – Investing in People 

Public Expenditure on Health – Investing in People 

Girls’ Primary Education Completion Rate – Investing in People 

Public Expenditure on Primary Education – Investing in People 

Natural Resource Management – Investing in People 

Inflation Rate – Economic Freedom 

Trade Policy – Economic Freedom 

Land Rights and Access index – Economic Freedom 

Regulatory Quality – Economic Freedom 

Fiscal Policy – Economic Freedom

Business Start-up – Economic Freedom 

Previous Sub-Saharan African Millennium Challenge Compact Countries:

Madagascar — $110 million (April, 2005)

Projects: secure formal property rights to land, access credit and protect savings and training in agricultural production, management and marketing techniques (compact terminated).

Cape Verde — $110 million (July, 2005)

Projects: improve investment climate and reform the financial sector; improve infrastructure to support market access, employment, and social services, and increase agricultural productivity.

Benin — $307 million (February, 2006)

Projects: improve physical and institutional infrastructure by focusing on access to four critical sectors: land, financial services, justice, and markets.

Ghana — $547 million (August, 2006)

Projects: improve agricultural productivity, increase production of high-value commercial and basic food crops, fostering greater private investment in agriculture. Program will also improve the physical and institutional infrastructure in agriculture sector.

Malawi — $351 million (April 2011)

Projects: a single sector program focusing on activities that aim to revitalize Malawi’s power sector (operational hold placed July 2011).

Mali — $461 million (November, 2006)

Projects: irrigation, airport improvement, and industrial park project.

Mozambique — $507 million (July, 2007)

Projects: improve water and sanitation with over 600 water points in rural provinces; increase transportation access to northern region; provide land tenure services, farmer income support and improved coconut productivity, while encouraging diversification into other cash-crops.

Lesotho — $363 million (July, 2007)

Projects: improve water supplies; improve health outcomes and productivity by investing in health care infrastructure and human resources and removing barriers to foreign and local private sector investment.

Tanzania — $698 million (August, 2007)

Projects: increase infrastructure investments in transport, energy and water.

Burkina Faso — $480 million (June 2008)

Projects: increase investment in land and rural productivity; provide water management and irrigation, technical assistance to farmers, and rural credit; rehabilitate rural and primary roads.

Namibia — $304.5 million (July 2008)

Projects: increase education sector’s efficiency and effectiveness; improve tourism management and infrastructure; land tenure and technical assistance to sustainably improve performance of livestock sector.

Senegal — $540 million (September 2009)

Projects: increase agricultural productivity; improve transportation through rehabilitation of major national roadways; strategic irrigation and water resources management.

It is not clear how much funding the government of Sierra Leone has received for its compact.

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