The real threat to national security in Sierra Leone is the economy

National Grand Coalition Party: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 August 2020:

On 6th October last year, the NGC in its first monthly press briefing called the attention of Government to the extreme hardship that people were experiencing in their daily lives due to the worsening economic situation in the country. We made the following statement:

“The problem of hardship in Sierra Leone has gone way beyond the issue of unemployed youths; hardship is strangulating the entire society, affecting those who have jobs as well as the jobless”.

To prove the point that it was getting more and more difficult for ordinary people to cope, we went down to the market and did a survey on the prices of basic foodstuffs in October 2019 as compared to the prices in March 2018. We discovered an alarming increase in prices whereas the income of the majority of households had not changed.

As a party that is sensitive to the sufferings of the common folk and that puts the interest of the country first we did a research in November 2019 into the reasons ‘why di gron dry.”  We concluded and recommended that Government needed to deal with hunger and hardship as an emergency and invite critical economic operators to the table to find out what their views were and discuss a way out of the current economic situation. Unfortunately, this Government does not seem to be very good at listening.

And now the Afrobarometer survey dated 19th August 2020 is out, confirming exactly what the NGC has been talking about since October last year!

“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”.

This is how the Afrobarometer report on Sierra Leone begins:

“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, a new Afrobarometer survey shows. 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.”

This was not written by the NGC or any other opposition party. These are world-renowned specialist researchers that have done similar surveys in up to 38 countries.

One major problem with governance in Sierra Leone today is that while, according to the Afrobarometer survey, more than 65% of the people say that the Government is going in the wrong direction, the Government on the other hand is satisfied that it is heading in the right direction! When Emerson unveiled his latest hit “coconat ade,” paopa apologists raided the social media with long lists of what they considered to be outstanding achievements so far by the Government.

The priorities of the Government do not seem to be the same as the priorities of the people. People are hungry, and that’s a fact. In the past year, nearly half the population has either always or several times gone without enough food, says the Afrobarometer survey. Basically, this means that food is becoming more expensive and in some cases unaffordable for the majority of our people.

This month of August 2020 the NGC has returned to the market to find out the prices of basic foodstuffs compared to what they were in March 2018. Our reason for doing this is because our Government seems to be doing everything except addressing the economy and hardship.

ITEM PRICES MARCH 2018 AUGUST 2020 PERCENTAGE

INCREASE AS AT AUGUST 2020

RICE PER BAG Le 235,000 Le 330,000 40%
RICE PER CUP Le 1,200 Le 2,500 108%
GARRI PER CUP Le 500 1,250 150%
FISH (HERRING) Le 1,500 Le 8,000 433%
PALM OIL

(PER GALLON)

Le 120,000 Le 180,000 50%
PALM OIL

(PER PINT)

Le 2,500 Le 4,000 60%
PLASAS

(SMALL TIE)

Le 500 Le 1,000 100%
ONIONS

PER BAG

Le 120,000 Le 180,000 50%
ONIONS

(UNIT PRICE)

Le 500 Le 1,000 100%
BULGUR

(PER CUP)

Le 2,500 Le5,000 100%
CHICKEN FOL FOOT

PER CARTON

Le 125,000 Le 170,000 36%
MAGGI

(UNIT)

Le 250 Le 500 100%
BEEF

(PER POUND)

Le 18,000 Le 25,000 39%
COOKERY

(PLATE)

Le 3,000 Le 5,000 67%
PEPPER

(PER CUP)

Le 700 Le 7,000 900%
USA DOLLAR

(BUYING RATE)

Le 765,000

$ 100

Le 1,080,000

$100

41% increase in dollar value vs Leones
US $ DOLLAR

SELLING RATE

Le 750,000

$ 100

Le 1,090,000

$ 100

45.% increase in dollar vs drop in Leones

So, there is a steady increase in the prices of these food items and no corresponding increase in income.

Given these prices we have estimated the basic cooking budget of a family of four people (father, mother and two children) at Le 46,000 a day.

ITEMS QUANTITY PRICES IN LEONES
POTATO LEAVES 3 tie Le 3,000
OGIRI 4 pieces Le 4,000
PALM OIL 2 pints Le 8,000
PEPPER 1 cup Le 7,000
ONION 1 big size Le 1,000
MAGGI 4 Pieces Le 2,000
FISH ( HERRING) 1 doz Le 8,000
RICE 4 cups @ Le 2,500 Le 10,000
CHARCOAL 3 packets Le 3,000
TOTAL Le 46,000

This means that they will be spending Le 1,426,000 on cooked food alone for a month if they prepare food every day. This does not include other essential expenses such as electricity bills, transport, medical, clothing, house rent, water bills and mobile phone credits. For the labourer who earns the minimum wage of Le 600,000 a month, his family cannot afford to cook at home, and he will need in one month up to Le 620,000 for a daily plate of cookery for all four members of his family.

We interviewed a teacher, head of a family of four, who has served for 35 years and is now in grade 7. After the 30% New Direction increment, he now earns a monthly salary of Le 1,350,000.  When he calculated his monthly expenditure on chop money, transport, lunch, electricity and phone credit he arrived at a total of Le 2,126,000.

In his address at the State opening of Parliament last year His Excellency President Bio celebrated his Government’s revenue successes, announcing that domestic revenues collected in 2018 increased by one trillion leones to a total of 4.35 trillion.  “From April 2018 to March 2019 government collected a total of 5.09 trillion of domestic revenue giving a monthly average of 424 billion”. However, in his present condition, the ordinary man does not feel the impact of all this in his daily life, even with the Free Quality Education that has relieved him from paying school fees.

We can all still hear the farewell song that the people chanted against the APC government in 2018: “Tolongbo nor go sidom ya, angri boku oh!” Well, the hunger has not gone away, rather it seems to have become more acute. Once again we ask the Government to treat hunger as the real threat to national security. Once again we urge Government to convene economic operators, farmers, economists, business people, importers etc. to consider, from their different perspectives, such temporary measures that are needed to address hunger and bring some relief to the ordinary man.

6 Comments

  1. Well is this not the best time for agriculture nar salone. You see why pa Shaki bin tell we say a plane of money just crashed landed in a nearby bush in pujehun. There is money in Sierra Leone but very few wants to work hard to get it. Most would rather get Samsung 10+ and get enough credit to call others from abroad. Everyone believes its the government’s duty to provide for their comfort. There’s money on the farm.

  2. I can help with investment in Sierra Leone, but no one in the government responds to my emails, in the State House or the ACC EVEN THE First kady, no response. Is there an email address for then directly, to be reached. The State House – no one returns emails, even though they are listed on the official State House website; over 2 years and there is no response to any emails. It is frustrating especially when emergencies occur. I also have tried to mention in my emails, the virus last year, as well as the impact of tribalism and human trafficking. I know Sierra Leone very well. I have employed many good people from Sierra Leone, West Africa and throughout the Continent of Africa as well as Asia, America, Europe andf
    different geopolitical blocks.

    I have mentioned the mudslide a month before it took place in Sierra Leone, but unfortunately due to tribalism in Sierra Leone and me being from America, no one would listen in Sierra Leone. The way I identified it, was with an advanced model dealing with advanced government uses, based on a random number generator, dealing with anomalies connected to different types of energy and energy manipulation.

    But I can help, with funding if I can get a call from the President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio before time runs out.

  3. Price hikes by unscrupulous traders and the so called investors…supermarkets and bad Sierra Leoneans in the business sector and especially greedy local traders, are the wolves and anti government monsters. Establish a price control mechanism to deal with businesses and bad people in this country. Next, embark on large scale mechanised agriculture; enforce a vigilant and incorruptible border crossing task force to stem smuggling into neighbouring countries, so as to deter illegal trade of local food stuffs.

  4. This report is so so true. Maada Bio’s waistline is increasing while the majority of the population is slowly starving to death. Dear Mr President, please concentrate on the basic needs of your people before high cost project. A full stomach will be willing to discuss and appreciate infrastructural development.

  5. Personally, I am surprised that the National Grand Coalition (NGC) party is downplaying the current security threat which was initiated by the Adebayor People’s Congress (APC) party, after the overthrow of the elected president of Mali. The reaction from some SLPP supporters has been condemned by the New Direction government and I was really expecting the NGC to play a mediator role in calming down the vitriolic rhetoric from the supporters of “Alusine and Alhassan”. The obvious is, the COVID-19 pandemic poses both Health and Economic challenges and is a National Security threat to even the most powerful nations around the world.

    One thing that the APC was successful in doing after losing the 2018 presidential election was putting out the narrative of “D Gron dry” within 2 months, after destroying the economy within 11 years of misrule through looting. That narrative started changing after the 3 days and indefinite inter-district lockdown, when most citizens realized how wonderful it was when people were free to move around the country in conducting their businesses freely. The icing on the cake was when our most powerful Finance Minister Mr. J.J. Saffa unveiled the Economic Rescue Package which minimized the economic shock as compared to other countries in Africa. Thanks to the credibility of the ACC, our donor partners are still assisting us financially.

    Finally, I personally believe that if this Afrobarometer survey is held today, based on the fact that the New Direction government has “SOAKED D GRON” by still paying salaries and allowances, dishing out monies to the business sectors, the disabled, tourist sectors and paying school fees for the Free quality education, reducing petrol price to name but few, the people would overwhelmingly respond positively. As patriotic Sierra Leoneans, even the traders should play their role to ease the burden of our citizens by refraining from price gouging or taking advantage of customers during these difficult times.

  6. Until government takes a hard look at the economic challenges facing our country, and try and create a road map on how to tackle these challenges, it will be difficult to see how we are going to address the systemic economic failures, of both past and present government that is devilling our country. One of the ways of doing it, is to advertise Sierra leone to foreign investors that our country is open for business. Peace and stability should be our main selling point. And fighting graft should be top of the list of priorities.

    At the same time investing in education and infrastructure projects like good roads, 24hours power supply, that are beneficial to all, will go a long way to address our economic woes. With good leadership, all the food stuff listed can be grown locally. Who needs Chinese or Indian rice when we can grow it in the Bollilands. This is made more urgent because of COVID19 pandemic. No one should underestimate the effect of this pandemic on the world economy. As the comparable consumer price index for foods and other commodities shows, the increases cannot be attributed on inflationary pressure alone, there are other factors at play. Corruption and lack of good governance is the main causes of our problems.

    As for public servants, or the WORKING POOR, government needs to calculate their salaries based on the going rate of the consumer price index, otherwise as the school teacher indicated, he won’t survive on his present salary. Which is sad, because our public servants are more dedicated to their work and our country’s development, than our corrupt and unrepentant politicians. SUVs, who need them when you have hungry children to Feed? May God bless Sierra leone.

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