Author: Mahmud Tim Kargbo: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 June 2018:
Good things have happened in Sierra Leone, but we are far behind many other countries. I think the former President is spot on because we can’t even compare Sierra Leone to Rwanda, which we once referred to as another war-torn nation. This means that the rate of private sector growth in Sierra Leone is not encouraging.
The big question for Mr. Former President is this: Was your government really putting our collected taxes to work?
Infrastructure development was good, but human capital development and job creation are key to economic development.
But may I please ask you Sir? Your much talked about infrastructural development was at what cost?
The much talked about bigger economic growth failed to keep in mind the drawbacks of measuring the strength of the economy using GDP.
Your government was unable to see the income inequality that was opening up, nor did they consider the average GDP per capita in the country. They failed to take cognizance of the purchasing power of the majority of Sierra Leoneans.
Questionable bigger economy
For a developing economy like Sierra Leone, a bigger economy was supposed to have enabled the people of Sierra Leone to escape the worst levels of poverty, especially with the almost debt free status that the APC government inherited in 2007.
Even with a small level of economic growth by then, if wisely used, could have generated the revenue needed by government to deal with the many serious problems facing the country, such as poverty, homelessness and lack of basic amenities. It should have enhanced living standards and improve the level of life expectancy.
It is perhaps a paradox that former President Koroma’s so called ‘bigger economy’, caused an increase in relative poverty for the majority. This is because those who benefited from his bigger economy were often his sycophantic and bootlicking associates.
The Koroma led government simply failed to grasp the fact that a bigger economy was supposed to lower government borrowing. They deliberately ignored the fact that bigger economy should have yielded higher tax revenues.
Instead, under the previous government, bigger economy helped increased government borrowing, which played a key role in increasing the country’s debt to GDP ratio.
Consumers did not benefit from consuming more goods and services. This was completely at odds with the assumption of economic theory, which states that consumption is related to utility. So, in theory, with higher consumption levels there should have been greater prosperity.
The former government was oblivious to the fact that with increased taxes – an expansion of its revenue base, the government could have wisely spent more on vital public services, such as health and education.
The government also failed to understand that improved health care for all, can improve quality of life of citizens and increase life expectancy.
Citizens need not wonder why during and after ten years of uninterrupted governance, our former President is still traveling to Germany for medical check-up.
His government failed to increase educational standards, nor could they develop the vocational skills levels of the workforce, in response to the demands of the economy. Hence, the majority of people in Sierra Leone were denied economic opportunity and freedom.
Under the Koroma led government, education was never regarded as an important determinant of improved wellbeing and happiness for the majority, but for the selected few.
Despite talk of a much bigger economy – increased GDP, youth unemployment remained stubbornly high at almost 70%. This was significant to those running the Koroma government, as unemployment was a means of remotely controlling the youths, which led to increased crime and alienation.