Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 November 2019:
Last Friday, president Julius Maada Bio received the latest report of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) into the government’s performance in managing the affairs of the country.
According to the report, which was presented to the president by Maria Brewer – the American ambassador to Sierra Leone, the government has performed quite well after just seventeen months in office.
Out of a total of twenty policy areas assessed by the MCC, the government passed eleven: Promoting Political Rights – 92%; Promoting Civil Liberties – 88%; Controlling Corruption – 79%; Putting Good Trade Policy in Place – 70%; Promoting Rule of Law – 58%; Promoting Freedom of Information – 85%; Promoting Gender in the economy – 61%; Spending on Healthcare – 68%; Investing in Primary Education – No data available prior to publication of the report but MCC gave the government a Pass; Promoting Business Start-Ups – 85%; Girls Primary Education completion Rate – 68%.
But the government is struggling in nine policy areas that need a lot of attention, in order to significantly improve its overall governance performance, especially in managing the economy where most households in the country are experiencing great difficulty in putting food on the table. (Photo above: President Bio discussing the MCC scores with Maria Brewer – American ambassador to Sierra Leone).
According to the MCC report, the government scored an appalling 4% on Fiscal Policy. Taxation in Sierra Leone is very high for both middle and higher income earners, as well as local businesses. This is bad for investments, job creation and employee productivity.
High government spending, especially on public sector salaries, and increasing borrowing, have also accounted for this very poor score, and needs immediate policy reset.
With the government struggling to stabilise the value of the Leone against foreign currencies, the impact on prices for goods and services in the country is being felt across the country, as the ministry of finance appears to be running out of ideas to control inflation.
As a result, the MCC has given the government 16.9% for all its efforts in controlling inflation.
In promoting high standards of Regulations in the country, the government scored 42%.
The government’s overall effectiveness in promoting justice was scored 40%, though it scored 58% in enforcing the rule of law, a sign perhaps of the massive delays in ensuring that court cases and election petition appeals are heard in a timely and fair manner.
In promoting Land Rights and access, the government is performing poorly with a score of 24%, after recent and continuing reported cases of unfair and heavy-handed approach by the Ministry of Lands and Housing, which at times appear to threaten the peace and stability of communities.
The government scored an appalling 19% in promoting access to credit finance – a significant driver of private sector investments, jobs and wealth creation.
The government must do more for indigenous businesses and local entrepreneurs, rather than relying on foreign investors.
In Protecting Sierra Leone’s Natural Resources, the government does not seem to have a clear policy or direction. The destruction of forest reserves for timber logging and the cutting down of trees to make way for new roads and building construction is having a massive impact on the environment, with catastrophic consequences such as flooding and destruction of the eco-system. The MCC report gave the government a score of 38% for its efforts.
For Rates of Immunisation across the country, the government scored 48%, and 21% for promoting Child Health respectively. This needs serious attention by the government.
It is pointless spending millions of dollars in promoting free quality education for primary school children, if their health is poor and survival rate from disease is low.
Responding to the findings of the MCC report and its scores, President Bio is reported to be broadly pleased with the government’s overall performance, given its relatively short time in office, but said that his government will do more to improve in those policy areas they are performing badly.
The government must up its game on the economy. If those employed to control inflation and stabilise the Leone against foreign currencies are struggling to succeed, then perhaps a change of leadership in the ministry of finance and the bank of Sierra Leone should be looked at by the president. There is no room for sentiments where the lives of citizens are at stake.
You can read the report here: