Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 March 2022:
Cost of living in Sierra Leone has been spiralling out of control in the last few years, fuelling rising poverty and early deaths, despite the government claiming to be doing all it can to turn the economy around. (Photo above – President Julius Maada Bio).
Since coming to power in 2018, President Bio has presided over a one hundred percent increase in the cost of fuel and other basic household commodities, as the value of the Leone against global currencies fall by over forty percent.
This morning, the people of Sierra Leone woke up to a huge rise in fuel prices from Twelve Thousand Leones to Fifteen Thousand Leones a Litre.
Cost of public transport has also gone up by Thousands of Leones in some cases, sparking an immediate hike in food prices as well as other commodities.
The capital Freetown has been in constant darkness for several months as electricity outage becomes the new normal under the Bio-led government.
The government says that the latest rise in fuel prices is the result of global supply chain problems due to the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
But critics are not buying the government’s explanation. They are accusing the government of gross mismanagement, incompetence and corruption in high places.
President Bio and several of his ministers are currently in Vietnam, one of the world’s largest producers of rice – Sierra Leone’s staple food.
Hundreds of millions of dollars claimed by the government to have been invested in rice farming since 2018, have yielded very little rice production in the country.
With presidential and general elections just fifteen months away, the President is trying to ensure that voters do not go to the polls in empty stomachs. He is believed to be negotiating huge consignment of rice supplies from Vietnam to arrive in time for the 24 June 2023 elections. But what will the President give to Vietnam in return?