The multiplier effect of corruption – Why blame government for economic hardship?

Concerned Citizen: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 September 2019:

A young man works for one of the government ministries in Sierra Leone. His salary is Le 600,000. But he makes between Le 500,000 to Le1,000,000 depending on the turn out every day on his desk (at least Le 2,500,000 a week) engaging in corrupt practices. As a result, he spends the daily cash as he cares. Living large and far above his legitimate income.

He visits the local joint every evening and buys drinks for friends  and area boys. They hail him high. He is married, but has two girlfriends. His “income” is enough to take care of them. The Restaurant seller at his favourite joint is happy, the joint owner is happy.

Everyone was benefiting from his “income”. Friends, family, area boys, joint owner, Cookery seller, girlfriends, wife and his church. Life was good.

Then suddenly came a new sheriff in town – the Bio led government, and suddenly the ministry implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA). His extra “income” disappeared. He now has to adjust to the new normal, and start living within his real income. That wasn’t easy.

Initially, he reduced his daily visit to the joint to 3 days a week and stopped buying drinks for everyone. He reduced his plates of Cassava leaves. The Restaurant seller started to find it hard to sell a full goat each day and resorted to buying half.

The young man’s girlfriends started to feel the heat too. No more iPhone 10. The joint owner noticed a drop in sales. The young man finally stopped visiting the joint after a month. The area boys started feeling his absence. The effect cascaded down.

The young man started spending more time at home with his wife and kids. The family had to readjust to the reality of the new normal. His hair stylist noticed the young man suddenly stopped tipping. He will even wait for his 5 Block change after haircut.

Things are different now. Times are hard, they all cry. The gron dry. The young man is blaming Bio government, his wife is blaming Bio government, the area boys are blaming Paopa, the girlfriends are saying Paopa must go, the joint owner is saying Bio killed the “economy”. The gron dry – they all say.

The Asun seller is cursing Paopa, the hair stylist is insisting Bio is too military like to rule. This is the story of our nation where corruption fuels the “economy”. Those who are not engaging in it are benefiting from it.

This is not about Bio or Paopa achievement or failure, but rather about the “multiplier” effect of corruption and how we have built a system largely driven by corruption. It’s about policy implication (good or bad). It’s about the choices we have made.

Finally, the young man had to withdraw his kids from what he called expensive primary school ( International School). He added: “what are they teaching them there sef, Ernest Koroma nor Maada Bio never went to a private school”. I just laughed.

The Moral of the story:

Most of the so called rich men and women in Sierra Leone before now were feeding fat on the populace. Imagine a low level officer in a ministry sponsoring two of his children’s education in Europe. When Single Treasury Account came to effect, free money dried up, and the government is blamed for his inability to fund his children in Europe. He says the gron dry.

This is what is happening in Sierra Leone right now: Blocking the leakages, causing unfinished houses all over Western Area, leading to Jobless bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.

5 Comments

  1. While the author portrays a familiar cascading of events in a typical corrupt setting such as Salone, the reasons given for the economic hardship (D gron dry) are highly fallacious by all indications. Its a fact that people have not just started complaining about economic hardship during this current regime.

    After Ebola and the global iron ore issue, we saw how the EBK regime instituted austerity measures which translated to a rise in economic hardship to the general society. Almost every where you go there were widespread complains by citizens crying down the terrible economic conditions. In fact, leading up to the elections, the oppositions parties’ main argument against the EBK regime was the high cost of living and lack of economic opportunities in the country. So it makes no sense for anyone to claim that people are complaining of economic hardship today because of a so called ‘single treasury account’.

    Contrary to what the writer has claimed, the driving factors of today’s extreme hardship cannot be disassociated with the following policies by the new regime:

    1. Removal of fuel subsides leading to a skyrocketing of transportation and local commodities. 2. High increase of custom duties leading to business people transferring costs to consumers. 3. Higher taxation of businesses and individuals — less money for families to spend. 4. The continuous rise in the dollar versus the leone. These and other factors such as the absence of investors in the country are highly the reason why ‘D gron dry’.

    The truth is, the same young man portrayed in the story still exists today. Of course, it’s a different young man who has found open doors because of political connections or other attributes.

  2. I cannot agree more with the writer of the article. A consistent analysis that well depicts with precision, the reality of our society. Corruption must be fought head on by any means that will make the fight effective.

    Here is the need to rally strongly behind the ACC boss. He had proved to us within a short time, to be the most effective and productive statesman since Sierra Leone gained independence. Bravo commissioner Kaifala, keep up to the job!!

  3. An excellent input and narrative about the status quo, THE GRON DRY. Corruption is nurtured in Sierra Leone, It has to be stopped!

  4. If people have been fighting to dry the state coffer, it is now time for them to repay the stolen money. The government is right in using active treasure hunt. Please brothers and sisters help the government and the president to put Sierra Leone on the stage. Poverty is crippling the masses who are trying to make ends meet.

  5. This author hit the nail on the head, this is precisely what has been the pattern for corrupt officials and their hangers-on and now adjusting to the new norm by these corrupt and incompetent officials is almost impossible. They have been so used to it (brown envelopes) that, it’s no longer being viewed as corruption but as entitlement and the new sheriff in town trying to fix the mess is seen as an off spring of Satan. Well done to the author for explaining in a simple and precise manner.

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