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Ahmed Fatamadi Bangura-Finance Minister


By Ibrahim Alusine Kamara (Kamalo )
Sierra Leone is gradually becoming a failed state because of the arrogance exhibited by the very people, call them politicians, whom the masses look up to to better their lives.
Sierra Leone has never diversified its economy like other countries that still enjoy less donor dependency despite importing almost everything.
Sierra Leone is endowed with rich mines and mineral resources, but these have incurred less value in the global market and the country’s development trajectory cannot be financed out of its proceeds. The price of iron ore is most times at its low. Gold mining is too costly and the sector is mostly controlled by unscrupulous foreigners. The once-rich diamond deposits are also being mined by foreign companies with little benefit coming to the people as paltry royalties and taxes are paid by these companies who further extract other valuable minerals that are little known by Sierra Leoneans and smuggle them out of the country either by bribing corrupt government officials to serve as cover ups, or unsuspectingly to Sierra Leoneans.
Moreover, there exists an acute lack of factories to enhance employment, the bedrock of economic growth and development; the weak tourism infrastructure could not also make the country a high global tourist attraction. Not only that but the cause for great concern is the reckless handling and misuse of donor funds, as well as the domination of corrupt individuals in key government offices, paid with mouthwatering salaries and posing an unnecessary bloated wage bill.
Sierra Leone is known as a donor-driven nation, and the connotation is, therefore, that its economy cannot thrive well and be sustainable without the support of international donors. It is, therefore, unfortunate that even though those at the helm of affairs know this fact fully well, they have failed to adhere to international best practices much to the chagrin of trusted donors and development partners.
Failure to conform with the true norms of democracy is a global offence, which the Bio administration is said to have committed by presiding over the conduct of general elections that have been widely condemned as lacking inclusivity, transparency, and credibility. Even so, Bio and his cohorts are seen to be exhibiting a sort of extreme, foolish pride with a feeling of much superiority that left them with nothing but to throw an open challenge, raining derogatory words at the donor community, even when it is glaringly clear that their concerns are justifiable for the well-being of democracy.
The United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union are the major funders of the Sierra Leone Government’s development programmes. Therefore, being headstrong and obstinate to them is like saying that though they pay the piper, they should not dictate the tone of probity.
Now, how can Bio thrive with his government’s development agendas when he seems to have bitten the fingers that feed them, and are now being isolated by the same outstanding and long-standing donor partners with funds no longer trickling in from the financial institutions they sponsor?
Bio has placed democracy not just at stake in real time under his administration, but he seems to have plunged an impoverished nation into more abjectness and squalor as his government is said to be financially handicapped that he is not able to pay salaries of the public workforce timely, let alone capable of undertaking the effective delivery of basic services.
As we went to press last night, there was even much grumbling among contractors over huge debts owed to them by the government with no immediate hopes of payment.
We were also told that the government is desperately struggling to pay salaries of workers in ministries departments and Agencies, though the sources could not tell whether the salaries of ministers and their ministries’ workforces have been reimbursed.
News was also viral at press time that Karpowership which has been the major source of electricity supply to the capital city, Freetown, is on course to halt operations for the Bio government’s alleged inability to pay several billions of Leones owed the ship’s management.
While all this is raging, however, President Julius Maada Bio continues to create new offices and appoint officials to those, thus adding more burden on the government with the dilemma of tackling an already bloated wage bill.
It is said that since the controversial re-election of Bio, Sierra Leoneans continue to be steeped in hunger, starvation, and suffering. Nothing has been working as the government is said to have been squarely squeezed, but officials and their extremist acolytes are presenting things to be okay, and their administration to be well, good, and kicking!
Meanwhile, pundits say in the pretense that all is well with the government to cover up a scary state of affairs that is now engulfing and overwhelming the nation, the government is said to have heightened engagements with almost all the sectors, public and private, to increase the tariffs of their rendered services.
Reports are that it first started with the astronomical increment in the prices of fuel products, and it was extended to the electricity and water bills. Now Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been placed on mobile money transactions, meaning that owners of OrangeMoney, AfriMoney, and QMoney accounts will now have to forfeit extra sums apart from what they used to pay to the agents in their cash-in and cash-out transactions, effective 15th September 2023.
Telecommunications and internet data tariffs are also said to be in the pipeline to be increased, allegedly, to enable the Bio administration to amass some substantial sums to cushion its financial lack.
Pundits have warned if things continue to go on like that unbridled, a negative reaction from the locals is likely, as hungry mobs could turn into angry mobs!

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