Bio’s 5 Years In Office In The Spotlight

Prince Macauley’s Integrity & Ministerial Scorecard…

Prince Jacob Macauley
Prince Jacob Macauley

By Foday Moriba Conteh

One of Sierra Leone’s most reputable and widely acclaimed Economists, Prince Jacob Macauley, who has been proffering  incisive economic antidotes, in terms of positive recommendations, that could have greatly helped to salvage this country’s economy, if only they were properly implemented or adhered to, as well as making well researched analysis of critical national issues, is all set to officially release his usual Integrity and Ministerial Scorecard of the current SLPP Government, specifically focusing on the five years of State Governance under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio.

From what he intimated this medium, the report contains the highs and lows of the Bio administration bordering on its achievements as well as its failures.

He went further in underscoring how the scorecard also contains an incisive analysis of the performance of  Eight (8) key Ministries that are central in driving economic growth and how they fared throughout the five years in which the SLPP-Led Government has been in control of State Governance under the leadership of President Bio.

According to him, the analysis is anchored on the use of certain parameters out of which empirical conclusions were drawn on

the performances of these Ministries within the five years framework further maintaining that he also proffered workable recommendations, which he believes could help in positively transforming the country’s economy.

One the key Ministries that the Economist said he analyzed was the Ministry of Finance, under whose purview the Bank of Sierra Leone (the Central Bank) and the National Revenue Authority (NRA) falls.

He highlighted that with regards the Central Bank, the redenomination of the Leone was a wrong economic move  that negatively impacted the country’s economy  further expressing the view that it  greatly undermined the economy as the desired purpose was never achieved as evident in the circulation of both new and old Leone notes.

The Economist highlighted how the auctioning of the country’s dollar reserve, a step that was taken by the erstwhile Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Professor Kaifala Kallon created a high inflationary situation in the country.

He argued that it is completely wrong for a Central Bank to auction dollars in its reserve when there is constant rise of inflation in the country.

The Finance Ministry, he noted, failed to monitor and supervise both the fiscal and monetary policies implemented by the Central Bank, and that resulted in an astronomical and uncontrolled rise in the exchange rate, which concomitantly resulted in the increase in the prices of goods and services.

He again maintained the view that the imposition of additional taxes by the National Revenue Authority (NRA) created more economic burden on entrepreneurs of various business ventures. In his estimation, owners of businesses have no choice but to increase prices and that affects consumers thus resulting in more hardship on the populace, occasioned by high cost of living.

Jacob Macauley recommended a review of both fiscal and monetary policies.

With respect to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Macauley is of the view that since the commencement of its National Development Plan, the Ministry had focused mainly on INGOs and NGOs operations, and not much has been seen in the area of development.

He therefore suggested that the Ministry should be merged with the Finance Ministry, as it was the original situation.

Dilating on the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, which supervises the National Minerals Agency (NMA), Macauley maintained that double standards exist in the Agency, as both the NMA boss and the former Attorney General had a field day, virtually seeking personal interests than the national interest. Referencing Kingho Mining Company, a Chinese iron ore mining company, he said the company came into the country with less than $400,000, and had to take loans to operate.

In relation to Kingho, he stated that both the Director General of the NMA and the former Attorney General displayed conflicting interests in awarding a contract to a company bent on exploiting one of the country’s most lucrative and priced assets.

Questioning the Reviewed Mines and Minerals Act, which he referred to as a ‘Boyfriend and Girlfriend document’, as it was prepared by both the NMA boss and the then AG to favor their interests, with the former AG being the Legal Adviser advising the Government at that time to approve the award of the iron ore mining contract since it was their preferred choice.

He stated how the Mines Ministry failed to recognize the important role that this sector plays in the economy in terms of employment, as the actions taken against SL Mining resulted in laying off staff and creating more unemployment in the country.

Looking at the Trade Ministry, Prince Jacob Macauley noted that there is no price control mechanism in place, and the monopolistic tendencies of some businesses have had a negative effect on the prices of commodities sold.

He also pointed out that since there is not effective monitoring of businesses prices of commodities are dictated by the business owners according to their whims and caprices instead of allowing the market forces to dictate the pace.

According to him, some of these traders or business people create artificial scarcities by hoarding essential commodities with the aim of increasing prices.

He even went to the extent of stating that because of lack of effective monitoring, especially by the Standards Bureau there has been a proliferation of sub-standard goods, including pharmaceutical items on the market.

In the area of Agriculture, Jacob Macauley maintained that this sector is plagued with a lot of problems which led to the failure of the Torma Bum Project.

He said farmers needed support and the provision of over 400 tractors for farming has been left in private hands, with the farmers having to pay huge rents for them. This, he furthered, has dampened enthusiasm in the sector. He noted that the President had told the country and the world that under his watch, all his appointees should be involved in agriculture so as to retain their jobs.

However, he lamented that five years down the line, where are the farms, and where are the yields from the farms to help reduce the dependence on importation of rice and other goods adding that even the locally produced rice is far expensive than the imported one.

With respect to the Lands Ministry, Macauley expressed the view that this Ministry has been doing a lot to change the many problems that it has been plagued with.

He noted that moves by the Government to provide land for less privileged in society through a raffle draw, has been a welcome development.

The Ministry, he maintained, was in the past riddled with corruption, as corrupt officials had a field day making deals, but with a proactive Minister, the trajectory has changed.

He commended the setting up of a Commission to address the many disputes over land and since then progress has been recorded. Disputes were addressed, thereby reducing the many Land cases in the Courts.

As for the Information Ministry, Macauley observed that some progress has been made in the area of free speech, with the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, which was used by crooked politicians to arbitrarily arrest journalists , Civil Society activists and political opponents,

He pointed out that whilst the repeal is laudable, the introduction of the Cyber Crime Law has taken that progress away, as it is more draconian than the libel law, maintaining that it interferes with the privacy of individuals.

The Economist stated that the National Telecommunications Authority (NaTCA), which is under the supervision of the Information Ministry, has the mandate to seek both the interests of citizens and the Mobile Operators.

He, however, asserted that with an increase in the tariff of data and calls levied by telecommunications companies, Orange, Africell, such is adversely affecting the lives of people, especially school pupils and students who rely on the internet to do their research and work.

In his estimation , such high tariff frustrates their efforts, and is also adversely affecting the Free Quality Education of President Bio and his Human Capital Development agenda.

He said that he note there has been a lapse in the regulation of MNOs by the Authority, and that has led to the many dropped calls experienced by subscribers.

Jacob, however, commended the Weekly Press Briefings held by the Ministry, which, he said, brings the Government closer to the people.

The Transport and Aviation Ministry came under criticism for its inability to effectively control transportation fares across the country, especially as it is the case with commercial tricycles and bikes.

He said these are constantly charging exorbitant fares for even short distances, putting blame on the cost of fuel.

According to him , the Transport Ministry also supervises the Airport, and the current Security tax of $25 paid by every inbound and outbound passenger is of great concern, saying when added to the cost of air ticket it renders the ticket cost to be higher than in other countries within the sub-region.

Citing an example, he said the price of air ticket to Dubai, for instance is far higher than the cost of same in Guinea or Liberia, and this has seen many business people going to Guinea to buy ticket to travel than buy in the country.

Macauley observed that even the fee that is paid for security by passengers has not drowned the incessant complaints of missing baggage.

The ferry service, he also noted, is another problem, as there have been instances when people onboard those ferries have held their breath as the ferries go off course, apparently due to breakdowns, adding that not everyone can afford the cost of water taxis.

These lapses , he pointed out, are affecting businesses etc. He stressed that there is urgent need for this Ministry to up its game, as it is one of the most important Ministries in the development of the country’s economy.

Among the worst performing Ministries is the Water Resources Ministry. Macauley observed that with all the monies invested in this Ministry, water supply is a huge problem across the country.

He said in the capital city, which should be an exemplary point , water crisis is everywhere, with young girls and boys moving around in search of running taps or pipes. He furthered that the absence of water supply to communities has been the reason for the cutting of water pipes by people.

He also maintained that the GUMA Valley Water Company sends bills to people for water that they are not supplied adding that those who can afford to pay for water bowzers   are also sent bills, even when it is clear that they don’t get supply from Guma.

Water, Macauley stressed, is a very important commodity that is needed by everyone, and should be a priority of any Government as it is used for various activities, including cooking, bathing, drinking etc. He said the proliferation of mushroom water producing businesses has seen less supervision to ascertain the suitability of the processed water for consumption.

Prince Macauley also critically examined the President’s Addresses to Parliament and his party’s manifesto, with a view of exposing how far the Government has implemented its promises in the manifesto, as well as all what His Excellency proposed to do as captured in his addresses to Parliament.

The tail end of the Report contains recommendations on what steps should be taken to improve the economic situation in the country.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here