Sierra Leone – bigger economy matched by bigger corruption

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.

5 Comments

  1. Hold your peace my brother. From independence to now, EBK has proven to be the best president ever. You are talking of debt compare to the tenure of Tejan Kabba. What were the capital intensive infrastructure development achieved by President Kabba? America has the highest debts in the world why? Because of its developmental strides.

    You are talking of Sierra Leone being raked the most hungry. Did president koroma inherit a country that was producing its own food? If no, is it possible within 10 years to make Sierra Leone produce food that will feed itself? If Sierra Leone depends on other countries for its food, do you think Sierra Leone can feed itself?

    And if Sierra Leone cannot feed itself is it EBK who created it? Why his predecessors never achieved that, because they had the same ten years or more, yet Sierra Leone was an importing nation.

    Issues to address are so many when EBK came to power. And among others, he tried his best more than all those that came before him. He is the president that proved to Sierra Leoneans that our previous leaders were wicked by not putting developmental strides ahead as he did.

    WHEN YOU ASSESS EBK ASSESS HIM AS AN INDIVIDUAL AND NOT AS APC. don’t use the misdeeds of the APC to overturn the excellent work of our never to be forgotten President Ernest Bai Koroma. Let the current president do his own bit and push Salone to another level, just as EBK did. But let us be watchful and see if IMF conditionalities are going to allow that.

    My final word is that Sierra Leone has to forget about Britain and forge ahead. One may think Britain is helping Sierra Leone, but it is the other way round. In fact they are the ones ruling Sierra Leone. And our leaders are just puppet of the West. What they want is what our leaders do.

    And they are not passionate about the development of Africa, including Sierra Leone. Let us all come together with passion and determine what we want for our country, and not the West dictating what they want for us.

  2. Alimamy I think you miss the point, since you are a die-hard APC supporter – despite the dismal performances of your party for nearly 3/4 of the 57 years since we get independence. You think creation will obey your law. In terms of your analysis, the Ahmed-Tegan led SLP government was handed over power at the middle of the civil in 1996, since the war started in 1991 and declared ended in 2002.

    Yet the massive debts of both the previous Siaka Stevens, JS Momoh and the two NPRC military governments were skillfully and technically brought down by the prudent policies of Dr Kabbah. And thereafter, there was no internal debt and over Le500 Billion was in budget surplus when he handed power over to Koroma.

    And within 10 years of the APC govt, the internal debt went up to nearly Le5 Trillion leones – over 2 Billion US Dollars; and our external debt has risen to over 2.6 Billion dollars. Sierra Leone had been declared the third hungriest country in the entire world when the APC party handed over power recently. Shame on you.

  3. For as long as the private sector is mainly control by foreigners in Sierra Leone, our economy will stay with the inability to compete even with Liberia. In Sierra Leone, citizens hated, discredited, neglected and unconsulted even for entrepreneurial decisions, which is the backbone of economy growth in a nation.

    Imagine even our daily consumer goods and services in Sierra Leone are already monopolize and licensed by trade ministry to foreigners, including used clotting from UK, luncheon meat from Holland etc. Which country in the entire World has ever become successful with the mindset of fourth classing it citizens? We the citizens most be regarded as first class in our country. What are NGO’s doing in Sierra Leone?

    Is Sierra Leone ngo or aid dependent country? Why do we need in this computer age a cotton tree pile with bats in the heart of our capital? Why our capital city is still called Freetown? When it reason, slavery has long been abolished. Please if our elders are unable to work with us for a successful Sierra Leone, please Sirs, step aside.

    For us, creativity and innovation is the center of our focus, realising that, we are living in a changing World. God bless our beloved country Sierra Leone. It is well with Sierra Leone.

  4. I think you should concentrate on spreading your propaganda, rather than bringing Economic theories to third-world development frameworks. Even in advanced economies, Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is not a perfect measure of individual prosperity.

    In spite of the Ebola epidemic – which account for 20% of negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – and the mudslide disaster, E B Koroma was absolutely the best president yet, in Sierra Leone. If this is not the case … I would like you to give me another example of a better president; with regards to infrastructure development, security, peace, etc, since our country gained Independence.

    I think you should focus your energy on the future, instead of trying to discredit the previous APC government. It seems as if you are not so positive on the potential ability of the present government (SLPP) to deliver comparable achievements as to that of the previous government (APC), and therefore you are trying to lay down pre-counter-weights – in favour of the present government – for future comparisons or analysis. You make it look as if there are no visible achievements left by the previous government.

  5. Why does The Sierra Leone Telegraph and home-based newspapers avoid or evade challenging and unpleasant truths about Sierra Leone?

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