Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 June 2023:
Sierra Leone, still classed as one of the poorest nations in the world, struggling to feed itself and constantly looking for donor support to pay for the country’s healthcare needs, questions are being asked as to whether the government should have spent millions of dollars it can ill-afford on a new luxurious building from where the fight against corruption will now take place.
Last year, the World Food Programme confirmed in a report that most Sierra Leoneans are at risk of hunger, as food (most of which are imported) prices continue to spiral out of control. Yesterday the IMF said that it has approved $20 million to help tackle inflation and stabilise a weak economy that has thrown millions of Sierra Leoneans into abject poverty.
Spending millions of dollars on a prestigious building at a time when the rest of the world are bracing themselves for more cost-of-living hardship, does not make sense. But President Bio thinks it does.
Speaking yesterday after the official opening of the Anti-corruption building on Monday, President Bio said:
“On Monday, June 05, I took time off the campaign to commission the brand-new headquarters building of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) “Integrity House” at Tower Hill, Freetown.
“The construction of the ACC Headquarters Building was fully funded by Government in furtherance of my resolve to fight corruption and to ensure the operational independence of the Commission within its own unique space.
“Corruption is an existential threat to the image, integrity, and wholesomeness of the state. It undermines business, public service delivery, public trust and cohesion, which are critical for national development. Hence, the fight against corruption must be won collectively.
“Our commitment to the fight against corruption has earned us favourable, progressive and sustained international ratings and corruption perception indexes over the last five years of my leadership. This is no doubt a testament to our strong commitment to curbing corruption in Sierra Leone. I congratulate the Board, Commissioner Francis Kaifala and his team for erecting a modern infrastructure to support the work of the Commission.”
Whilst the government is being lauded for its efforts in fighting corruption, many say that this fight has been mainly taken to former government ministers and officials in the previous government, and not its own public officials and ministers.
There are serious allegations of rampant corruption running into tens of millions of dollars at State House and the office of the wife of the President – Mrs Fatima Bio, that have not been investigated by the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC).
Former senior government ministers previously accused of rampant corruption that are now part of the Bio-led government or have defected to the ruling party, have escaped ACC investigation and the Bio-government commission of inquiry into misappropriation of state funds.