By: Mohamed Massaquoi
Throughout his campaign trail the then SLPP Presidential Candidate, now President Julius Maada Bio, was known for being an ardent critic of how the country’s resources were being managed by the then All Peoples Congress government – a management system he described on countless occasions as “Fiscal Indiscipline”.
Fiscal indiscipline, for him, meant that resources were not managed the right way. In some cases, resources meant for the collective good of all Sierra Leoneans were used to fund party activities while in most cases for individual interests, which led to the unfortunate closure of a lot of companies, suspension of operations in the country by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) among others. Simply put, the economy was in a dire straits.
President Bio campaigned and won on the New Direction platform. One way he has vowed to tackle fiscal indiscipline is through effectively and efficiently managing the state resources. In high anticipation of being elected President, he said he would close the loopholes, tackle corruption and reduce government expenditure – something which he has delivered on remarkably well in just eight months.
In his maiden address in Parliament, the President disclosed that his government inherited the worst economic situation the country had faced since independence in 1961 and characterized by double-digit inflation, low domestic revenue mobilization, high domestic debt burden, unsustainable external debt, and huge arrears to contractors.
Despite the economic challenges he inherited, President Bio has been able to institute numerous reforms through executive orders that have helped in local revenue generation, allowing the government to start to deliver on most of its campaign pledges as well as pay salaries of government workers on time without resorting to bank lending.
The numerous reforms ushered in by the Bio-led government has not only helped to stabilize the economy, but it has also restored donor confidence in the country. Last week, a fresh breathe of life was inhaled back in the country when the IMF confirmed its decision to restart operations in the country. This does not only bring additional funding into the country but also shows how much the new government has been able to achieve within a short period of time.
Good news is that the IMF is coming back and this time with a colossal sum to help the new administration with its programmes. The world’s monetary fund is bringing to the country $ 171.5 million. As part of its immediate measures, the IMF is sending $21.5 million to the country with the remaining cash being spread over a period of 36 months.
From all indications, this move by the IMF means that within eight months, the SLPP administration has been able to change the negative perceptions about Sierra Leone by positioning the country as a place suitable for investment of which the fight against corruption has been very helpful.
Very importantly it would be fit to commend the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, and his hardworking team, as well as praise staff at the National Revenue Authority for achieving such a feat. Again, we must commend the President not only for providing the political leadership but also for his decision to appoint credible and competent Sierra Leoneans into positions of trust.
The SLPP is here to stay!!! Kudos, Mr President!!!