Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 August 2020:
There is no doubt, Sierra Leone’s economy is in a mess. If not for the support of the international community and development agencies, especially the World Bank and the IMF, the economy would have been in a state of bankruptcy as the government fails to turn the economy around as promised. The government is clueless and the people of Sierra Leone are suffering.
Call it incompetence or whatever, the fact remains the government is now showing it lacks the expertise and experience to manage the economy as unemployment continues to rise, inflation running out of control with prices of basic foods skyrocketting beyond the reach of even those one may describe as middle income earners.
The country’s currency – the Leone, has lost almost 40% of its 2017 value when the former APC government was in power, with One Dollar now trading at over Twelve Thousand – Five Hundred Leones, compared to almost Nine Thousand – Five Hundred Leone in 2017.
Despite the government’s hype about the efectiveness of its New Direction policies, there is growing poverty in Sierra Leone, and it seems the government is now showing its incompetence in turning the economy around.
Since its election in April 2018, the international community, development partners, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have put in more than 500 Million Dollars into the country. Where is all that money gone?
The government’s direct cash transfer to citizens to help cushion the financial effects of COVID-19 on households has been made possible with the millions of dollars support from the World Bank.
But this support itself is ironically helping to push inflation up, as export revenue continues to remain stagnant, whiles government expenditure continues to rise, causing a massive fiscal deficit in the government’s accounts.
So, what does the latest International Afrobarometer study say about the government’s handling of the economy?
Published yesterday, the report makes for very worrisome reading, as the people of Sierra Leone begin to lose patience with the government’s failed promises and lack of ability to turn the economy around.
According to the report, “the government receives lower approval ratings on its economic performance than on other issues. Fewer than two in 10 respondents say the government is doing a good job of handling the economy (19%); improving living standards of the poor (15%); narrowing income gaps (10%); creating jobs (10%); and keeping prices stable (7%)” – an appalling performance by a government that won the 2018 presidential election by a mere three percentage points, amidst claims of ballot rigging and electoral fraud.
This is what the report published by the Institute for Governance Reform says:
“Only one-third of Sierra Leoneans say the country is going in the right direction, a significant decline after some optimism with the change in government in 2018.
“Sierra Leoneans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with their personal living conditions and the country’s economy, and very few citizens believe the government is doing a good job of handling the economy.
“Dissatisfaction with the country’s economy and personal living conditions is reflective of citizens’ increasing levels of deprivation in their everyday lives, as large majorities experience shortages of food, clean water, and other basic necessities. Citizens in the opposition-controlled Western and Northern regions are especially bleak in their outlook.
“In 2018, President Julius Maada Bio inherited an economy undergoing austerity measures and faced high expectations of economic improvement. These survey findings suggest that a series of steps to strengthen the economy have yet to translate into material gains for most citizens.”
▪ Only one-third (32%) of Sierra Leoneans say the country is going “in the right direction,” a 13-percentage-point decline compared to 2018 (45%) (Figure 1).
o The perception that the country is moving in the right direction is more common in ruling party strongholds – Southern (57%) and Eastern (53%) regions – than in opposition party strongholds – Western (16%) and Northern (14%) regions.
▪ Just one in 10 Sierra Leoneans (11%) describe the country’s economic condition as “fairly good” or “very good” (Figure 2). Negative assessments (84%) have almost doubled since 2012 (46%).
▪ Only two in 10 citizens (19%) describe their personal living conditions as “fairly good” or “very good” (Figure 3). The proportion who describe their living conditions as fairly/very bad (72%) has increased by 32 percentage points since 2012 (40%).
▪ Nine in 10 respondents (89%) say they went without a cash income at least once during the year preceding the survey, including 43% who did so “many times” or “always” (Figure 4). Almost as many report experiencing shortages of medical care (81%), food (70%), and clean water (68%).
▪ The government receives lower approval ratings on its economic performance than on other issues. Fewer than two in 10 respondents say the government is doing a good job of handling the economy (19%), improving living standards of the poor (15%), narrowing income gaps (10%), creating jobs (10%), and keeping prices stable (7%).
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life.
Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018. Round 8 surveys in 2019/2020 are planned in at least 35 countries. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.
The Afrobarometer team in Sierra Leone, led by the Institute for Governance Reform, interviewed 1,200 adult Sierra Leoneans in March 2020. A sample of this size yields country level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.
Previous surveys were conducted in Sierra Leone in 2012, 2015, and 2018.
You can read the full report and access its data and graphs here: