Ibrahim B. Koroma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 March 2023:
The SLPP government of President Bio has been telling citizens, particularly in the provinces, that the current economic hardship is caused by the Russian-Ukraine War. They say global price increase of fuel is hugely responsible for commodity price inflation in Sierra Leone.
As a way of scrutinizing the government, I have done research that fact-checks the government’s excuse for the current troubling times we face today.
From global oil data (see: https://oilprice.com/oil-price-charts/), as at today 21 March 2023, the global price of crude oil is 68 USD and the price has been fluctuating between 60 USD and 75 USD for a long time now (see evidence by visiting the above site).
The economic management of Sierra Leone under former President Koroma saw global oil price at 100 USD and above for a long time because of the global financial crisis at the time, but Sierra Leoneans never paid above Le6,500 per litre for fuel.
Now that the global oil price is at its low (i.e. 68 USD), Sierra Leoneans are still paying for a litre at Le21,500. This is unfair and unacceptable.
“Enough is enough,” a Political Science lecturer at Fourah Bay College (FBC) and a social commentator, who wish to be anonymous, lamented to me recently.
President Bio came to power in 2018 promising Sierra Leoneans a sound and effective economic management of the State and its resources. So far, for many Sierra Leoneans, that promise has not been turned into reality as they cry every day for things as basic as food, water, electricity and medicine.
On the financial management of state resources, Sierra Leoneans have cast doubt on the Bio Administration’s ability, based on lots of damning revelations of process and financial corruption by local and international media organizations.
The US-based Africanist Press has been publishing bank statements showing proof of massive cash withdrawals and payments made to close allies and relatives of big state actors including the president and his wife for the award of illicit contracts that failed to follow due process prescribed by financial and procurement laws of the State.
My research shows that the current economic crisis, at the micro-level, is caused by two factors:
Firstly, the overwhelming effect of the Central Bank of Sierra Leone monetary and fiscal policies. On the monetary policy side, inappropriate moves by the Bank Governor and the Ministry of Finance have led to massive devaluation of the Leone (Le) and some say the Leone has lost its value over 100% in about 18 months of the Bio Administration.
It’s now proven that the Leone is the 3rd weakest on the African continent and the least in the Mano River Union. On the fiscal policy side, the over-ambitious efforts of the government to boost domestic revenue has led to unimaginable tax increases on services and commodities over the years, ranging from 100% to 300%.
Secondly, deliberate action by the government to hike or increase fuel price over and above what is expected, as evidenced by international oil price per barrel. It’s clear that government gets the lion share of the fuel price formula (i.e. PLATTS) whilst citizens suffer from the brutal effect of the hike in fuel price.
As a result of the above, Sierra Leone’s poverty curve is rising sharply. World Food Programme (WFP) data shows that 73% of Sierra Leoneans are food insecure.
In the words of the current ACC chief Francis Ben Kaifala in November 21, 2016; and I quote: “This is time for the Sierra Leonean to refuse less and request more. We have to tell our leaders that poverty is not the way of life. It is something which is man-made and men all over the world have fought to change it.”
About the author
Ibrahim B. Koroma is a Researcher and Executive Coordinator of Advocacy Network for Community Development in Sierra Leone.
If you put the empirical fluctuation of currency exchange rate, your research would be much better.