By Abubakarr Harding
Sierra Leone is currently at a crossroad. With the recent re-election of President Julius Maada Bio and the formation of a new Government, expectations are running high that very soon rather than later the implementation of sound policies will immensely contribute in improving the country’s battered economy and restore fiscal sanity that will impact the lives of majority of the citizenry in positive ways.
At this material time, when the country is at a crossroad, a prudent Economist of the like of Prince Jacob Macauley is said to be highly qualified and eligible to head the country’s Central Bank, the Bank of Sierra Leone as Governor.
Prince Jacob Macauley is held in high esteem, in various quarters, for the incisive and practically sound economic recommendations he had been offering to revamp the country’s ailing economy. As a matter of fact, there is a school of thought that holds the view that if only those recommendations were factored, during the first tenure in office of President Bio, they would have greatly contributed in revamping the nation’s economy and help in improving standards of living generally.
Indeed, it goes without saying that in the last five years, when the SLPP led Government, under President Julius Maada Bio, was in control of State Governance, most of the predictions made by Prince Jacob Macauley during the tenure of the former Bank Governor, Professor Kelfala Kallon, turned out to be true.
One of those predictions relates to the devastating consequences that will materialize if the Bank of Sierra Leone goes ahead with the idea of auctioning the dollar. It will be recalled that at that material time even World Bank officials, who were visiting the country, questioned the wisdom of auctioning the dollar at that stage.
As a matter of fact, during a meeting held within that period at the Radisson Blue Hotel Conference Hall in Freetown, in which the erstwhile Financial Secretary for the Ministry of Finance, Sahr Jusu and the then Bank Governor, Prof. Kallon were present, the implementation of the auctioning of the dollar, was questioned by the World Bank. Both State officials acknowledged that implementing such a policy was a grave mistake.
Records could attest that long before the said meeting, Prince Macauley had raised the alarm bell, during an interview by Radio Democracy, that the move would be counter-productive and indeed such turned out to be true.
Again when a redenomination of the Leone was made or introduced by the Bank of Sierra Leone, Prince Macauley, warned against that move, saying that there was no backup for the currency to maintain fiscal stability and by introducing the redenomination such will lead to hoarding of the dollar as people will opt for the dollar more than the New Leone.
That situation, Macauley warned, would lead to a rise in the demand for the dollar and subsequently an increase in the exchange rate as against the Leone. His advice was again ignored with catastrophic consequences.
When, however, there was a replacement of the former Finance Minister with Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, Prince Macauley breathed a sigh of relief, with the strong conviction that the new Finance Minister will exactly know what to do.
Indeed, the confidence reposed in the current Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, by Prince Macauley did not go in vain with particular reference made to the implementation of sound economic policies as seen in the Minister recently tabling a Supplementary Budget, which according to Prince Macauley, is the best action to begin with in addressing the problem coupled with a complete review of both fiscal and monetary policies.
Against the backdrop of Prince Jacob Macauley being a seasoned Economist backed by his years of experience, there is another school of thought holding the view that it is but fitting that someone of such a high calibre, who has shown keen interest in contributing to revamp the economy, be made or appointed to team up with the Finance Minister as Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone in order to create a situation where both Economic Experts would work together, in order to deliver a very stable economy.
But who is Prince Jacob Macauley? Briefly, he is an Economist of a very high pedigree that has worked with the World Bank and other top international financial institutions.
He has also been a Consultant for various organizations, including the Adam Smith International, DT Global Crown Agent and Moody Rating Agency etc.