Dr Doma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 November 2023:
Amidst Sierra Leone’s wild economic changes, where taxes have skyrocketed faster than a caffeinated monkey climbing a tree, there’s a new comedy act in town – the government’s overseas travel expenses.
Forget stand-up comedians; our leaders are taking centre stage with a wallet-lightening performance that has the public both amused and bewildered.
President Julius Maada Bio seems to be on a mission to collect more passport stamps than a globetrotting flamingo.
In his second term, the overseas travel expenses have shot up like a rocket on caffeine. Now, you might wonder if our president is chasing frequent flyer miles for a secret cosmic vacation club.
World Bank’s warning for the government to curtial unecessary public spending to avoid sending the economy into meltdown, has fallen on deaf ears.
The government’s Annual Financial Report reads like a tragicomedy script. While taxes on essentials are giving citizens financial acrobatics to perform, the government’s overseas travel budget is practicing its own high-flying routine.
President Bio’s government has so far spent over Le180 Billion on overseas traveling. In 2022, he and his government spent Le87, after spending Le21 Billion in 2021, leaving Sierra Leoneans wondering whether the national budget has got wings, they did not know about.
Comparing the numbers is like watching a surreal sitcom. In 2020, the government’s spending on overseas travels was Le27.48 billion.
Finance Minister, Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, recently took the stage in Parliament, expressing his own version of financial stand-up comedy. With a straight face (almost), he highlighted the urgent need for a balanced act between making money and spending it.
It’s like advising someone on a tightrope to juggle while tap-dancing – challenging but supposedly possible.
Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, in his financial comedy routine, stressed that mastering fiscal discipline is the key to turning this economic tragi-comedy into a rom-com.
Imagine Sierra Leone’s economy as a quirky rom-com – quirky because we didn’t see this twist coming, and rom-com because, well, we’re all in it together, for better or for worse.
So, as we go through this financial funhouse, let’s hope our leaders take a crash course in budgetary slapstick. After all, laughter might be the best medicine, but a well-balanced budget is a close second in these times of economic humour and financial mistakes.