What has been going on with the commitments, Mr. President?

Mrs Ceda Ankra

 It was February 15, 2018, a day that many Sierra Leoneans and I will likely always remember. The nation held its very first official discussion starting from the inception of multi-party a majority rules government. Prior to the election, six candidates for president provided responses to a variety of questions regarding their goals and strategies for the growth of the nation.

Many families were glued to their televisions that peaceful evening. Others moved around with radios and cell phones, carefully listening to determine which of the candidates was qualified to lead the struggling nation of 7 to 8 million people.

As a youngster at the time getting ready for college confirmation, I had little information about legislative issues and its games, however I had a thought that Sierra Leone required a visionary chief. As a result, I was eager that evening to hear from you, Mr. President, and the other candidates, my hopes and dreams for a better Sierra Leone.

"It has begun! It has begun! When the debate started live, my younger sister yelled. When I moved from my bedroom to the hallway, where everyone was gathered to watch the debate, I almost broke my thin leg while running to avoid missing any of it.

As I watched, I heard you, President Julius Maada Bio, say that a decision in favor of you was a decision in favor of a majority rule change and a finish to the enduring of Sierra Leoneans.

You expressed that the decade of the All Nation's Congress (APC) ideological group misappropriation and financial fumble, made significant languishing over individuals of Sierra Leone, and you made a few commitments, some of which included: if you were elected president, you would control the price of a bag of rice, boost the economy, and reduce the country's reliance on other nations.

You say that a bag of rice cost 60 thousand Leones before the All People's Congress party took over in 2007; however, when they left in 2018, a bag of rice cost 200 thousand Leones.

During the debate, Mr. President, you expressed empathy by stating that this was too much for citizens to pay for a bag of rice. You, consequently, asked all Sierra Leoneans to decide in favor of you and the Sierra Leone Individuals' Party (SLPP) for a difference in administration and a finish to their misery.

The answer is no, although the government did change, there was no change in the price of a bag of rice. Ironically, under your administration, prices have increased.

As of September 2022, Sierra Leone sold 50 kg of rice for between 400,000 and 470,000 Leones. Yet, by and by, a similar 50kg sack of rice has expanded to 520,000 in only half a month.

Mr. President, based on what I've seen and the information that is available, the situation appears to be more hopeless than you initially thought. The cost of a bag of rice is rising at an alarming rate, making it difficult for the majority of people in your country today to purchase the staple food.

In this suffocating economy, citizens continue to lose the little they make due to the rising cost of living.

You have been in office for four years, and your term is about to come to an end. However, not many Sierra Leoneans can claim with pride that you have kept your word to them.

Mr. President, I accept Sierra Leoneans put stock in a way that would sound natural to you and chose you with a ton of trust in your commitments. You won against a government that was already in place, which shows how much Sierra Leoneans trusted you and your promise of change.

Mr. President, you also claimed during the debate that the previous administration recklessly mismanaged the economy by misusing and embezzling funds, resulting in a devastating state for the nation and a massive 1.6 billion dollar foreign debt.

The APC government has spent money like drunk sailors. A foreign debt of approximately 250 million dollars and a reserve of more than 5 billion Leones were left behind by the SLPP government. Our current foreign debt is approximately 1.6 billion dollars as I speak to you. The people of this nation are facing significant difficulties as a result of reckless government spending of this kind.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. President, you strongly criticized Ernest Bai Koroma's administration and the APC party for entangling Sierra Leone in a 1.6 billion dollar foreign debt.

However, current data from the World Bank indicate that Sierra Leone's external debt has reached 2. eleven billion dollars The data for 2021 have not yet been released.

Mr President, the ascent in our outside obligation under your watch plainly shows that the ceaseless getting has expanded the obligation by 0.36 billion bucks, pushing it from 1.75 billion bucks to 2.11 billion bucks in only two years (2018-2020).

Analysis of Sierra Leone's external debt stock as of 2020 by the World Bank.

Marian Origin: Mr. President of the World Bank, you led us to believe that you would assist in resolving the issue, but the outcomes demonstrate otherwise.

You chanted at the 2018 presidential debate about how, as a young military officer who led a coup d'état that overthrew Valentine Strasser in 1996, you had served the country as head of state, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Sierra Leone, and Chief of Defense Staff. You affirmed your leadership skills and experience, as well as your support for Sierra Leone during the war.

You stated that because you promised democracy and delivered on it, many people referred to you as the "Father of Democracy."

You emphasized, "So, when I make my promises, it is against a credible track record you can trust."

In addition, you stated, Mr. President, that you would lessen your reliance on other nations by expanding domestic revenue generation.

“We must introduce some discipline in the way we spend the people's money in order to deal with our serious economic problem; The first thing is to control spending, you said.

You stated once more that your government would initiate stringent measures, introduce discipline in public spending, and mobilize domestic revenue.

Regardless, Sierra Leone's Evaluator General's Report of 2021 states that your administration's use in 2020 expanded by 43%, from Le6.41 trillion of every 2019 to Le9.18 trillion.

Additionally, the audit's estimated cash losses for 2020 are stated to be Le113.1 billion, according to the same report.

The money used by some ministries under your administration that was not recorded during auditing is the source of the cash losses.

Mr. President, where has the assurance of fiscal discipline gone?

Together with other backlog audits covering the fiscal years 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, the estimated cash losses identified for the year under review (2020) total Le 153.9 billion. According to the audit report, the general-purpose financial statements (GPFS), public enterprises (PEs), ministries and departments (MDs), and local councils are affected by these losses.

Mr. President, the years of cash losses under your administration do not appear to reflect the promises of spending control measures.

Indeed, Sierra Leone is currently ranked fifth poorest country in the world with a low GDP, and the economy you promised to improve is still struggling.

Why make promises you can't keep, Mr. President?

However, the African Development Bank estimates that Sierra Leone's economy will have expanded by 3.2% in 2021, following a contraction of 2% in 2020.

According to the African Development Bank, the expansion was fueled on the supply side by the resumption of iron ore production alongside a recovery in other key sectors, as well as on the demand side by higher exports from mining and agribusiness.

 Additionally, it stated that the Ebola outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic had a part to play in the current economic predicament.

Mr President, the 2020 review report expressed that the degree of both outside and homegrown credits remained extremely high; In addition, that government prepared a debt clearance strategy in 2018, which is essentially a plan designed to guide the settlement of domestic debts accrued prior to your government's arrival.

The debt clearance strategy was essential for the government's new commitment and the management of the old debts. Although this strategy has been developed, its terms have only been implemented slowly, making it possible to call it a "walking dead" strategy.

Mr. President, as you are aware, Sierra Leone gained independence from the United Kingdom in April 1961. Since the country's decade-long war came to an end in January 2002, your predecessors have made significant progress. Over the course of time, those leaders have been responsible for fostering reconciliation and rebuilding the nation.

You are currently in charge of a nation that is rich in minerals like tantalite, coltan, diamond, gold, bauxite, rutile, iron ore, limonite, platinum, chromites, and coltan, among others.

Sierra Leone continues to face numerous difficulties, including the improvement of its economy, the creation of jobs for the youth, the fight against corruption, and the fight against political division, despite all of the country's mineral resources and human capital under your supervision. The situation under your administration leaves citizens with only hope for change.

After all is said and done, Mr. President, the people of Sierra Leone and I continue to believe that you are capable of addressing the situation at hand. Even though you didn't keep some of your promises, we still trust you to find solutions to our problems, just like children trust their fathers.

By increasing your investments in the production of local rice, we believe you can still salvage the situation.

Sierra Leoneans will not have to pay high prices for foreign rice if we are able to produce enough rice locally; and employment in the area will rise.

Additionally, if the government stops importing rice from abroad, the money can be used for local rice production and the country's development. Sierra Leone will transition from its current crisis of poverty to the production of an export-ready system as a result of this.

Mr. President, the conclusion is that Sierra Leone's economy requires immediate assistance, and that borrowing more money won't save it either. Sir, it is absolutely necessary to implement the spending discipline and domestic revenue generation you mentioned here.


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