Mahmud Tim Kargbo: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 January 2020:
Right thinking citizens of Sierra Leone appreciate the country’s Chief Minister when he recently acknowledged that for nearly two years now, Ministries, Departments and Agencies under his government are yet to deliver the government’s agenda.
Taking full responsibility for the poor performance of his government, in the concluded cabinet retreat few days back, President Bio told his Ministers that 2020 must be a year of delivery for all his Ministers. But when the SLPP came into power in 2018 with their manifesto, believed to be a structured plan.
If two years into governance the President is saying that 2020 must be a year of delivery, it begs the questions:
Was there a delivery plan, and if yes, was the plan credible and relevant to the needs of the country? In this case, we would assume that the plan was credible and consistent with the National Medium Term Development Plan launched in 2018, to have received the support of development partners
One would have expected nearly two years into governance, that through the pronounced fiscal discipline and strong economic measures announced by the President in 2018, that the seeds of development would have germinated by now.
But if the government is now saying that their delivery has not been up to the expectations of the people, then one would assume that either there is a lack of leadership in delivering the Plan, or there’s a failure on the part of the implementers.
Either way you look at it, we are still where we were nearly two years ago. In fact, much worse, if you take sectoral performances into consideration – for example, we have less electricity output in the country , less supply of fish in the market, rising transportation costs, and a free health care initiative that is struggling.
Thus, the question is: Why have the leadership and their ministers fail to perform as expected? Are the Ministers and Heads of public institutions not up to the task?
Years of experience continue to teach us that one of the key drivers of the country’s economy is the investment environment and climate. This is key to growing the economy. But, take a look at State House which is dominated and controlled by former military personnel. When the security of the President is highly tribalised in a post conflict and fragile state; when top civil servants with years of experience, plus vast knowledge about the country’s economy are illegally relieved from their duties and replaced with inexperienced civil servants; when employment in public positions of trust are not done based on merits; when a new government quickly recruited Police and Military personnel and promoted military officers at the highest level; when chaos and disorder become the order of the day; when you argue that a country is well battered by the previous regime; when you pursue your political opponents for nearly two years without end; when your legislature doesn’t work and is in a seemingly chaotic state; and when the judiciary is highly politicised and compromised – the bottom line of that administration is failure.
Watching the President moving around with military personnel sends signal to investors that the President is not sure of his own security and safety.
In a post conflict and fragile state, where the leadership sets the tone or creates the framework for development and fiscal discipline, he must become the lead shepherd that constantly monitors his ministers rather than embark on frequent overseas travel, thus taking his eyes off the ball.
So, what major policies, programmes and projects will the government be implementing in the next two to three years that will stimulate the economy? Perhaps the construction of the Lungi bridge? Certainly not.
A question that must be asked now, is whether the government has laid a foundation for an economic stimulus. The declining level of import tells it all. The depreciation of the Leone tells its own story. A non-strategically thinking Ministry of Finance, confused Central Bank and a lame Development Ministry, beg sobering questions: Can and will this government deliver? Is there any hope of a better future, or is changing Ministers yet again – the answer.