ACC Probes Chief Minister’s Banking

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ACC Probes Chief Minister’s Banking

When the ACC goes into gear and resolves to probe the Almighty Chief Minister, who has been the brainchild behind the Commissions of Inquiry, and who is seen as the Mr. Clean-Clean, smacks of what the street cred calls ‘The Game Don Babala.’ Mr. CM, sir, my take is that you should have first opened your Bible to read the Wisdom of Solomon before sending off your boys in blue to cart away into detention a journalist that was only asking you to clarify and answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to his text. But you didn’t. Instead, you stated in your press release that you misconstrued his inquiry to have an element of extortionate sentiments. Look now! Where is it leading the state now? The journalist never said you were guilty of having taken a bribe. No. He was doing an investigative piece of work after a tip-off, Sallieu said on 98.1FM on Wednesday morning, by the Financial Intelligence Unit.

With the reputation of the ACC and its results, so far, one would expect a thorough and deep cleaning work, leaving no stone unturned. Where there is corruption, arrest must be made. Whoever stands in the way, even if that person is the Pharaoh, empty the Red Sea upon him to get to the bottom of the truth. Nothing short of the truth is welcoming. We the journalists rest our case. We await the type and quality of investigation you will be undertaking. We will also be monitoring all concerned. We want to hear something concrete from the FIU, the Ecobank Express Card, lest there is an off-shore account somewhere, and every nook and creek must be explored with the utmost savvy and intelligence required in this very public interest matter.

ACC ENQUIRES INTO ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION AGAINST CHIEF MINISTER

In light of recent allegations of corruption against the Chief Minister, Professor David John Francis, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that it has accordingly taken appropriate action. Professor Francis himself contacted the Commission following a text message he received from Sallieu Tejan-Jalloh, Managing Editor of The Times Sierra Leone Newspaper, alleging that a total of US$1.5M was paid into his Ecobank account as bribes.

The Chief Minster, acting in accordance with Section 77 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, which imposes a duty on all public officers to report where a corruption offence has been committed; or is about to be committed, accordingly informed the Commission.

Acting in consonance with Section 7(1)(b) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, which mandates the Commission “to investigate instances of alleged or suspected corruption referred to it by any person or authority or which has come to its attention, whether by complaint or otherwise,” the ACC accordingly contacted Mr. Jalloh to help with information to aid an investigation. Unfortunately, Mr. Jalloh refused to comply with the request of the Commission.

However, the ACC issued a Section 57(2) Notice, compelling the Ecobank to submit to the Commission all financial records and transactions of the Chief Minister. In its response, Ecobank clarified that “Professor David John Francis does not maintain any account with the Bank.” Yet, Ecobank maintained that Professor Francis has an Ecobank CashXpress pre-paid card since August 2019. The said card, according to Ecobank, denominated only in Leones, can be issued to both Ecobank account holders and non-account holders. The investigations also revealed that since he was issued this card, Professor Francis never loaded the said card with cash; and therefore never used it.

Nonetheless, the ACC invites anyone with evidence to pass such to the Commission. By the provisions of Section 82(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, where a person discloses to the Commission that a public officer, body corporate or public body is, or has been involved in corruption, he shall incur no civil or criminal liability as a result of such disclosure.

In this light, the Commission wishes to reassure the general public of its determination to continue executing its mandate without fear or favor.  For further enquiries on this and other ACC matters, please contact MARGARET MURRAY, the Public Relations Officer on +232-78-832131.

…………………………..

PATRICK SANDI

DIRECTOR, PUBLIC EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DEPARTMENT

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CMF’s office

The attention of the Office of the Chief Minister has been brought to a spurious allegation making the rounds on social media that the sum of USD $1.5 million was paid to a private Ecobank Account belonging to Professor David Francis. The allegation also purports that the alleged payment was made by a supposed mining company referred to as “SL Mining”.

Further to such nefarious allegations, there have also been reports that a certain journalist referred to as Sallieu Tejan-Jalloh of the Times newspaper has been detained by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Sierra Leone Police on the pretext that it was in connection with a text message sent to the Professor David Francis seeking clarification on the said allegations.

Based on these allegations, the Office of the Chief Minister wishes to state the following for the general public:

First, the allegation of the payment of USD $1.5 million to a private account owned by Professor David Francis is not only false but a calculated attempt to smear the image and reputation of Professor David Francis.

Second, Professor David J. Francis ONLY owns an international travel card account at Ecobank for ease of official travels and therefore any allegation of a payment of such colossal sum is both mischievous and profoundly ignorant.

Third, Professor David J. Francis, guided by his ethos of transparency, also wishes the public to know that he has instructed the bank to waive his data protection rights should the bank wishes to make any official statement on the allegation.

Fourth, the Office of the Chief Minister also urges the general public including members of the Press to contact “SL Mining” to enquire about such allegation or of any payment whatsoever that has ever been made to Professor David J. Francis.

Fifth, On Friday 8th November 2019 Professor David J. Francis received a text message from a certain mobile number requesting comments on four questions. As a matter of fact and contrary to the alleged USD $1.5 million, question 3 in the text message specifically states “We also learnt you allegedly received a kickbacks of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars from SL Mining…True or False?” This means even the allegations are self-contradictory.

Sixth, the text message also claimed that the enquiry was being made not only by Tejan Jalloh of Times SL but it also named the following: Abubakarr Kargbo of Standard Times, Ibrahim Alusine Kamara of Sierra Express Media and Amara Samura of New People Online.

Therefore, the allegation that a certain Sallieu Tejan Jalloh of Times newspaper was detained ONLY in connection to a text message when other supposed journalists were named seeking the same clarification and they have not been detained is preposterous.

Seventh, after receiving the text message, Professor David J. Francis immediately informed the heads of Anti-Corruption Commission and the Criminal Investigation Department reporting the text message as a case of extortion and harassment.

Eight, Professor David J. Francis also wishes to inform the public that this is not the first time he has received messages from unknown numbers with messages of threats, extortion and harassment. Therefore, Professor David J. Francis has always reported such text messages to the authorities for investigation.

Ninth, Professor David J. Francis did not give any instruction for the detention of journalist but however strongly believes that the Police should carry out criminal investigation on serious allegations without undue pressure.

The Office of the Chief Minister wishes to state that Professor David J. Francis has built his reputation over several decades through hard work, integrity, humility, transparency and high moral values. His decision to serve as Chief Minister was because of his love for country and passionate commitment to transform Sierra Leone through the leadership of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.

Therefore, Professor David J. Francis’ commitment to public service can neither be derailed nor his hard-earned reputation be smeared by bogus allegations which are malicious and deliberate.

Finally, Professor David J. Francis also wishes the public to know he remains committed to Press Freedom but believes that Journalists should practice their profession without malice, manipulation and casting aspersions.

Electronically Signed.

Abraham John

Director, Ministerial and Cabinet Follow Up

Office of the Chief Minister

Statement in response to false allegation of payment by SL Mining to a Government official

November 12 2019 – Lunsar, Sierra Leone: SL Mining Limited (“SL Mining” or the “Company”) has been made aware of a false allegation circulating on social media and in the press of a payment by SL Mining to a Government official, and the related detention last night of a journalist in Sierra Leone.

SL Mining confirms that such a payment does not exist and wants to take this opportunity to reiterate that it has always complied and continues to comply with all laws, both local and international, and with SL Mining’s own strict anti-bribery and other policies. SL Mining has also complied and continues to comply with its obligations under the Company’s Mining License and Mining License Agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone.

End.

For information visit: https://slmining.com/

Press enquiries: [email protected]

About SL Mining

Located in the Port Loko District, the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, SL Mining is engaged in the exploration, development and production of ‘Marampa Blue,’ a high-grade iron ore concentrate with >65 percent Fe content. SL Mining was awarded a renewable Large-Scale Mining License granted under the Mines and Minerals Act, 2009 In March 2017 for a term of 25 years, emphasizing the strong support for the Marampa project locally, and reflecting its significant importance to the national economy. Together with Gerald Group’s international expertise in metals, finance, strategic investments and experienced management teams and employees, SL Mining aims to build a resilient and long-life iron ore mine in Sierra Leone and to expand operations by integrating mining, processing and rail and port logistics, alongside playing a responsible role in the economic and social stability of the Lunsar region.

3 Security Agencies and ISAT Team Up

As the Sierra Leone Police continue in its strides to live up to the avowed maxim of a “FORCE FOR GOOD,” it had a collaborative engagement with its British counterparts, ISAT, Surrey Police and the Royal Military Police, in effect, yielding positive dividends and soaring higher.

The institution has steadily progressed in the maintenance of law and order and in the observation of human rights. Between March and April this year, personnel drawn from the SLP and RSLAF benefitted from the Royal Military Police (RMP) and Surrey Police who delivered a Detective Foundation Course at the Sierra Leone Law Enforcement Academy (SILEA) at Hastings.

The six weeks Detective Foundation Course (Training of Trainers) covered the following subjects: Basic Instructional Techniques, Recording Written Witness Evidence, Core Investigative Skills, and Initial Response to Crime, Crime Scene Management and the use of Forensic Evidence in Investigations amongst others. The most outstanding Student of the course according to the SLP Assessment report was Alhaji Dauda Sandi (Kudos).

Following this course, the facilitators held a one day dialogue with representatives of the SLP and RSLAF at the Conference hall at Police Headquarters on George Street, Freetown, on Thursday, November 2019. In attendance were: AIGs Mustapha Kamara, Director of Gender Affairs; Brima Jah, Director of Crime Services; ASP Michael Kelly Dumbuya, Ag. Head of Gender Unit; and Abdulai Bangura, “National” NCO Crime FSU. Those representing RSLAF were Colonels P.A Koroma, Director of Training; Education and Doctrine, K. Karifa, Forces Provost Marshal; Lt. Col. SB Farmer, Commanding Officer JPU. Chief Supt. Alistair Roe of ISAT chaired the ceremony, while in attendance also were WO1 Graham Newton (RMP) CT Jacki Smith (Surrey Police) and Sgt. Lauren Dougherty (RMP) as trainers. Meaningful contributions were made by all the attendees and simultaneously, assurances were made by all three institutions to continue to work earnestly in ensuring that the SLP benefits from professional courses and trainings. 

Air Transport To Get Better By 2020

In an effort to make air transport affordable and accessible to all Sierra Leoneans and also to promote tourism, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), through the Ministry of Finance, has eliminated the Goods and Service Tax (GST) levied on all aviation charges at the Freetown International Airport.

The Minister of Finance, Hon. Jacob Jusu Saffa made this disclosure during the reading of the Government Budget for the 2020 Financial Year in the Well of Parliament. The GST exemption on all aviation charges is expected to take effect in 2020 after the enactment of the 2020 Finance Bill.

The objective of the tax exemption on aviation charges is to reduce the cost of travel to Sierra Leone in order to promote air transportation, boost tourism and create job opportunities. According to the budget:“All aviation related charges will be exempted from the payment of GST. These include all aircraft handling charges and aircraft fuelling.”

The Director General of Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA), Moses Tiffa Baio said the move made by the Government of Sierra Leone to exempt all aviation related charges in Financial Year, a 2020 is a demonstration of government’s strong political will to develop the aviation industry in Sierra Leone, adding that it is another way of opening Sierra Leone to tourism and other development opportunities which can be an incentive for economic turnaround in 2020.

“The elimination of GST on all aviation related charges at the Freetown International Airport opens the door to multiple opportunities of which the reduction of airline ticket prices in Sierra Leone is the key. Before now, airport charges and taxes levied on airline operations had direct impact on ticket cost which resulted to increase in air tickets. The tax exemption will reduce cost of operations for the airlines and thus foster industry growth and contribute to the promotion of Air transport and tourism in Sierra Leone,” he said.

The effort to build a safe, secure, sound and economically viable aviation system in Sierra Leone has been one of the top priorities of the New Direction administration. Before the move to eliminate GST on aviation related charges, GoSL reduced all airport taxes levied on air tickets.

With these highlighted reductions backed up by the plan implementation of Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) by International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Government of Sierra Leone, it is expected that air ticket prices will be reduced considerably in 2020 and beyond.

Sierra Leone is a member of the African Tourism Board.

David Moinina Sengeh a Research Scientist at IBM Research Africa

His research is at the intersection of applied analytics/machine learning and healthcare with a focus on Africa. He was born and raised in Sierra Leone, received his PhD at the MIT Media Lab, where his research in the Biomechatronics Group focused on the design of comfortable prosthetic sockets and wearable interfaces. This work was at the intersection of medical imaging, material science, human anatomy, computer-aided design and manufacturing.

David is on Forbes 30 under 30 in Technology for 2013, a 2014 TED Fellow, on the Wired Smart List 2013, winner of the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize, and won many other awards. He has been invited to give talks at institutions like the United Nations, corporate and academic organizations on topics related to education, youth innovation, prosthetics design and more.

He is the President and co-founder of the international NGO Global Minimum Inc. (GMin). Currently, GMin’s main project is Innovate Challenges; the first-ever competition created to foster a culture of innovation among high-school students in Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Africa. Innovate Challenges is a mentorship program and set of workshops where youth can get help in transforming their ideas into tangible solutions. GMin was one of three winners out of 1000 nominees for the Rockefeller Foundation Next Century Innovators Awards in 2013. Previously, GMin led the distribution of over 16,000 mosquito nets to cover over 28,000 people in Sahn Malen chiefdom in Sierra Leone.

David attended the Red Cross Nordic United World College in Norway before earning his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at Harvard College. At Harvard, his undergraduate work focused on making a stable, aerosolized BCG vaccine against Tuberculosis for delivery to the lower lungs. There, he was a co-founder of one of Popular Mechanics’ Innovators of the Year 2009, Lebone Solutions Inc. a company that won $200,000 from the World Bank to produce microbial fuel cells in Africa.

He is the owner and lead designer for the clothing design company Nyali Clothing, employing over 10 employees. David is a lyricist and rapper making music that draws youth towards creativity and away from drugs and gansterism. He has traveled and worked in over 15 countries globally on various projects related to education, health care delivery, and medical device design. He is interested in the idea of using technology and innovation to drive national development.

Other links

Face2Face Africa: Young African’s Committed to Excellence 2014

ELECTIONS FOR WOMEN IN MEDIA

NOMINEES FOR POSITIONS IN WIMSAL NATIONAL AND REGIONAL EXECUTIVES

Freetown, 13th November, 2019: The Electoral Commission of SLAJ (SLAJEC) wishes to inform the membership of the Women in the Media, Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) that the following persons have been nominated for the WIMSAL National and Regional Executives. The election is scheduled for Saturday, 30th November, 2019 in Kenema City.

NATIONAL EXECUTIVE:

NOMINATIONS FOR PRESIDENT

1.         Femi Coker

2.         Mariama Khai-Fornah

NOMINATION FOR VICE PRESIDENT

1.         Umu Hawa Bakarr

NOMINATIONS FOR SECRETARY GENERAL

1.         Diana Coker

2.         Marian Tina Conteh

NOMINATION FOR ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL

1.         Millicent Obries Mansaray

NOMINATION FOR FINANCIAL SECRETARY

1.         Mary I. Kamara

NOMINATION FOR ORGANISING SECRETARY

1.         Elizabeth Campbell

NOMINATION FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER

1.         Eastina Taylor

REGIONAL EXECUTIVE – EASTERN REGION:

NOMINATION FOR CHAIRPERSON

1.         Isha Alinah Jalloh

NOMINATION FOR VICE CHAIRPERSON

1.         Issata Koroma

NOMINATION FOR SECRETARY

1.         Hawa Conteh

NOMINATION FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER

1.         Keama Lamin

REGIONAL EXECUTIVE – NORTHERN REGION:

NOMINATION FOR CHAIRPERSON

1.         Fatmata Osman Kuyateh

NOMINATION FOR VICE CHAIRPERSON

1.         Umu Thoronka

NOMINATION FOR SECRETARY

1.         Emilia Nma Kamara Jengo

NOMINATION FOR ORGANISING SECRETARY

1.         Adama Samuel Fofanah

NOMINATION FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER

1.         Edina Amhe Ngegba

REGIONAL EXECUTIVE – SOUTHERN REGION:

NOMINATION FOR CHAIRPERSON

1.         Fatmata Grace Okekearu

NOMINATION FOR VICE CHAIRPERSON

1.         Josephine M. Kaillie

NOMINATION FOR SECRETARY

1.         Isata Jalloh

NOMINATION FOR ORGANISING SECRETARY

1.         Rassy Bah

NOMINATION FOR FINANCIAL SECRETARY

1.         Sukainatu Walters

NOMINATION FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER

1.         Mariatu Massaquoi

Note that the provisional list of eligible voters will be published between 12th and 15th November, 2019 and displayed at the SLAJ Headquarters at 56 Campbell Street, Freetown, and WIMSAL regional offices in Bo, Kenema and Makeni for verification. Moreover, the petition window will be declared opened on 15th November and will run up to 20th November, 2019.

Members are kindly requested to ensure that they check the list and contact the office for any clarification. Please note that no one will be allowed to vote if her name is not on the voters register. We look forward to your maximum cooperation in order to help us conduct a transparent and credible election.

Campaigning will commence on 15th November and end on 29th November, 2019 at 6:00pm.

For further inquiries, please, contact the following Commissioners:

Ibrahim Tarawallie – Commissioner for Western Area (075-461395/077-464624)

Martha Kargbo – Commissioner for Eastern Region (078-537519)

Zainab Iyamide Joaque – Commissioner for Northern Region (030-320766/076-515808)

N’fa Alie Koroma – Commissioner for Southern Region (076-741418)

James Tamba Lebbie

Chief Electoral Commissioner

PUJEHUN DISTRICT ON PEACE DIALOGUE

By Mousa E. Massaquoi

Stakeholders, women and youth of Pujehun District have taken their peace, reconciliation and development dialogue to the people of Sorogbema Chiefdom.

The meeting was held on Saturday, November 9 2019 at Fairo Town. The next meeting is to be held in March 2020 at Zimmi Town, Makpele Chiefdom in the Pujehun District.

The first peace, reconciliation and development meeting was held on 6 July2019 in Pujehun Town where it was unanimously agreed that, after every three months, the meeting would be held in one of the 14 chiefdoms in the district.

The Sorogbema Chiefdom meeting attracted indigenes from the chiefdom, stakeholders from the district, traditional leaders and government officials.  

Paramount Chief of Sorogbema Chiefdom, PC Mustapha Jeange Massaquoi, in his opening address, said the initiation is a very good idea which will bring together town folks of the district to talk about peace and development.

He said that his chiefdom is underdeveloped, adding that the road network leading to Sulima Town, which is the commercial town of his chiefdom, is in a very bad condition.

He, therefore, appealed to CSE Road Construction Company, which is constructing the Sierra Leone-Liberia international road, to construct the road from Malema Junction to Sulima Town in order to address the constraint his people are going through.

Also, he said that his chiefdom had challenges in terms of health issues and education, thereby appealing to the government and development partners to come to their aid.

Chairman, Peace, Reconciliation and Development Secretariat, Sadiq Silla added that things are hard, but they cannot blame the people.

He said Pujehun District has cultivated the culture of making their brothers and sisters enemy because they are in opposition parties that, he said, is very bad.

“The overall objective of the dialogue is that Pujehun District should be developed. Be it SLPP, APC, NGC, C4C or any other political party, we should come together and develop our district.

Peace and reconciliation does not mean there is a war but we have to come together and develop our district,” he said.

Pujehun District Descendants Association (PDDA) Chairman, Patrick Ansu Kaikai added that the idea of peace, reconciliation and development dialogue is to bring everyone on board to discuss the issues affecting the district and finding the way forward.

Meanwhile, he promised that they will construct a big Court Barry in Fairo Town, which is the headquarters of the Chiefdom, as the current Court Barry is small and is outdated. District Officer of Pujehun Distirct, Charles Munda Kailie, in his contribution, thanked the Secretariat for the initiative and promised to support the peace, reconciliation and development drive.

He used the opportunity to respond to the allegations that Clerks are extorting money from people by stating that he is not the one that allocates clerks, but the government.

Pujehun District Youth Chairman, Brima Fullah cautioned the youths to be respectful, calling on the them to show respect for stakeholders and the elders in society.

He said by next year, the chiefdoms will have a Chiefdom Farm to address the massive unemployment of youth in the country.

Resident Minister South, Mohamed Allie, said if they are talking about peace in the chiefdom, it should start with the Paramount Chief and his subordinates.

He said there is no loser in the paramount chieftaincy election as everybody is a winner, calling on the people to embrace and respect one another.

WARDC COMMISSIONS DISTRICT LIBRARY

By WARDC COMMUNICATIONS

The Western Area Rural District Council has on Wednesday, November, 13 2019 has Officially Opened the Western Rural District Library in Waterloo.

The Commissioning was Chaired by the Chairman of WARDC, Chairman Kasho J. Holland Cole.

In his Opening Statements, Chairman Kasho J. Holland Cole said the Opening of the Western Rural District Library is to compliments President Bio’s Flagship Program on the Free Quality Education Program.

He further went on to say that they had wanted to build a District Library, but due to Limited Funds Available they decided to rent a whole building to serve as the District Library, while the Council is working with Local Authorities to have a Land and secure funding for the construction of the Western Rural District Library in the Near Future.

“WARDC knows the important of Education and the power of research and reading. “Education is also part of our top most priority that’s why we are using our Own Source Revenue to build additional school structures in Bassa Town and Kossoh Town to promote and boost Education in the District” said Chairman Kasho in Chairing the Opening Ceremony.

In his Statement, The Chairman of the Education Committee in WARDC, Councillor Santigie Sesay thanked the leadership of WARDC for its outstanding leadership and support towards education in the District. He refers to the opening of the District Library as a dream come true, adding that they have affirmed his Committee’s Commitment in Promoting the Flagship Program of the Government in Making Education accessible to all and Sundry. He further went on to encourage the teachers and the pupils to make a good use of the library for their own good in accessing information and educational research.

Hon. MC Kabia, who spoke on behalf of his colleague MP in the District, thanked WARDC for making tremendous efforts in ensuring they have a Library in the District. He said the library is of great importance to the teachers and the school-going pupils.

The Western Rural District Library is a class A Library that has internet availability and computer for the purposes of research.

The program ended with the official cutting of the tape by Chairman Kasho, Councillors, Staff and Members of the Sierra Leone Library Board and the handing over of a fully Licenced Motor Bike to the District Library Team

Other dignitaries were, Mr Habib Thorpe, MPs, Board Members of the Sierra Leone Library Board, Village Heads, Principals, Sector Heads and Senior Staff of WARDC

FINANCE ACT 2020 BECOMES A LAW

By  Public Relations Uinit

The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday 12th November 2019 extensively debated and passed into law late yester night with some amendments the Bill entitled: “The Finance Act, 2020”. The Bill is aimed at the alteration and imposition of taxes for the services of the Republic of Sierra Leone for the Financial Year 2020.

The Bill was piloted by the Minister of Finance; Jacob Jusu Saffa who said among other things that the Act was seeking to provide for the imposition and alteration of taxes as to give effect to the financial proposals of the Government and to provide for other related matters for the 2020 financial year.

The Minister also informed MPs that the Bill would enhance some economic prudence and foster growth which would improve best practices relating to the management of public finances.

Contributing to the debate, the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sidie M. Tunis said that the finance Bill always had issues, adding that the Minister of Finance deserves accolades for making this particular one so thorough. “We have a very, very good Finance Act for 2020 and with this the Bread and Butter Budget will succeed” he said in a joyful mood. He also assured Members of Parliament who contributed to the healthy debate that the concerns raised would be addressed at a later stage.

On his part, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernor R.M Bah said that the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party would support the Act, saying that MPs are under obligation to make sure that the Minister of Finance succeeds for the good of the nation. He also expressed hope for an economic boom by the year 2020.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Finance Committee in Parliament, Hon. Francis Amara Kaisamba explained the importance of the Bill, stating that a lot of amendments had been made in order to put the document together to match up with the 2020 National Budget. “75% of the expenditure in any budget is generated by the Government, while the balance is funded by donors” he stated. He also used the opportunity to appeal to colleague MPs to look at the Bill with a national lens.

Hon. Daniel Koroma of APC asked the Minister to give due consideration to the taxpayers, whilst encouraging the Minister to introduce better and newer ways to generate funds for Government to undertake development programmes in the country.

Hon. P.C. Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III of Tonkolili District appealed for the reduction of taxes on some companies in order to continue their promotional services in their areas of operations. “If you tax the poor people to provide money for the rich, you will have economic growth without economic development” he informed the Minister. The Paramount Chief also asked the Minister to focus on job creation through the establishment of industries and viable agricultural interventions to reduce importation.

Hon. P.C Kontanday M’briwa of Kono District called on the Minister to consider equal distribution of resources at the chiefdom level for actual development initiatives to take place in the rural communities.

Hon. Abdul Kargbo of APC criticized the Ministry of Finance for establishing a procurement directorate, noting that it was not proper and such conduct was counter-productive to the operations of NPPA (National Public Procurement Authority), adding that all MDAs are supposed to have a unit and not a directorate.

Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh of SLPP called on the Minister not to change the supervisory functions of Rokel Commercial and Sierra Leone Commercial Banks by the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) and give it to the Ministry of Finance. He also asked the Minister to reconsider his decision and give support to the local companies in order to create more jobs, so as to reduce importation and to pay keen attention on auction to maximize huge benefits for the state.

WE ARE CLASSMATE ONLY IN SCHOOL, AFTER SCHOOL EVERYBODY FIND HIS OR HER CLASS IN LIFE!!!

I was thinking this morning….. about our speed in this race of life. Last Sunday, I was privileged to attend the wedding of the daughter of my good friend and former classmate in the College. As I sat as part of the guests at the reception, listening to the proud MOB (mother of the bride) giving her speech, I reflected on how far we’ve come as former classmates in school. I considered how her children are of marriage-able age (the youngest just turned 20), while mine are still teenagers. I recalled another classmate of ours whose son just graduated as a medical doctor, but mine just about entering the University. As I pondered on why it seems I am lagging behind, the face of another of our classmate flashed by and I was reminded that his children are still in Primary school. At this point, it dawned on me that though we were all classmates and graduated together same year, life has shuffled us and placed us in different classes today. We were classmates in school, but not classmates in life. Everyone has his unique class. I concluded that in the school of life there are no classmates, because Life is a class of one.

Life is a class of one. Hmm!!! That conclusion held me down for a bit. Ten years after I got employed in my dream job, getting a second promotion became a prayer point. One day, a colleague that we came in together on same level walked up to me and said ‘Bro, na wao. We came in together and I have gotten three promotions and you, just one. Is there something you are not doing?’ I left him feeling bad but not for long because soon after, I realised that in the school of life there are no classmates. Life is a class of one. He is on his path while I am on mine.

Have you considered why, from the same branch of a tree you have both ripe and unripe fruits? The seeds were released same time, exposed to same nutrients and environmental conditions but yet some ripen before others. Identical twins that deliberately wait for each other to be in the same class, engage in the same business like P-Square (Peter and Paul Okoye) and even wed on the same day, will not get their wives pregnant on the same day. Life is a differentiator. My mind is made up that Life is a class of one.

If it is true that in the school of life there are no classmates, because Life is a class of one, then why do we look at another and feel inadequate, like we are not where we should be? Why would someone that has been privileged to be in a somewhat lofty position look down on others like he is superior in some way? Life is a class of one. I am in my class for now (it can always change) and you are in yours. Do not sweat over the class others are in, because there are no classmates in life. If you like, give yourself double promotion like we do in those days, life will eventually place you in the class you are meant to be.

Do not compare yourself with anyone, because you are in a class of one.

There are no classmates in life.

Let’s ponder on this as we journey through life.

I got this from a friend and I feel it will be good to share.

I Prefer Stupidity to SLPP’s Cleverness

By Mohamed Sankoh

At times, the cleverness exhibited by the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party gives me the soothing feeling of preferring stupidity to such cleverness. For how could any rational person with a functioning brain argues that he wants to reduce an inherited Wage Bill of Le150 billion by increasing it to Le220 billion with the next financial year’s To-Do-List of Le250 billion? That’s what I will describe as feigned cleverness wrapped in stupidity covered with illogicality!

And such illogical senselessness could also be seen in the manner in which the government of President Julius Maada Bio is cleverly trying to“plug the leakages”in streamlining the country’s workforce. Despite the SLPP has been aping that it “inherited a broken economy”; yet the President thought it logical to increase the number of Cabinet Ministers from 26 to 28 and Deputy Ministers from 26 to 30. That again could be metaphorically likened to a madman pretending to be of sound mind than the psychiatrist who is treating him of his ailment. 

But since I might not be too clever than the PhD holders and Professors surrounding President Bio at State House or State Lodge; that’s why I may not be seeing, or decoding, the logic behind the President’s cleverness in the manner in which he has been going about trying to reduce the “inherited” Wage Bill.

And to make the already over-bloated Wage Bill workable, the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa aka JJ Blood, has told the nation that in 2020, the SLPP government would bloat the Wage Bill further with a would-be “National A forestation Programme” that would initially employ 10,000 youths…”, and that “a beach beautification project” would “employ additional 3,000 youths…” Added to such fantasies, the Bio-led administration has also promised, through the Bill entitled, “The Appropriation Act, 2020” so many “unachievables” that even four-year-olds have raised their eyebrows in scepticisms. 

Such scepticisms might have risen from the fact that if the SLPP government is currently unable to pay poor streets-sweeping women their daily wages for over a year now; if the SLPP government is incapable of paying salaries of workers at the House of Parliament for over six months now; if the Bio-led administration is still grappling with the inability to pay salaries on time; if the SLPP government is having challenges in providing fuel and per diems for high-profile Government functionaries; if it is unable to make true “the students loan scheme” as promised in the 2019 budget speech but add to students’ despairs by increasing university fees; if the Bio-led administration cannot even solve the “bread and butter issues” for ordinary Sierra Leoneans, then how would the SLPP government pay the additional 13,000 youths it intends to employ in 2020? 

And in the midst of all those illogical senselessness, Mr Saffa has the impudence to tell the nation that, “the Sierra Leone economy is recovering from subdued growth in 2017 and 2018. [As] Preliminary data indicates that the economy will grow by 5.1 percent in 2019…” Well as Chinua Achebe would say in his classical novel Things Fall Apart,“you can tell a ripe corn by its look”. But the corn which the Finance Minister is presenting as ripe doesn’t look that way to majority of ordinary Sierra Leoneans who are finding it extremely difficult to get even one un-square meal a day.

But what could be expected of a government which has Jacob Jusu Saffa as its Economics czar to oversee the implementation of supplementary expenditure control actions aimed at synchronizing Government’s Wage Bill? Personally, the man is reported to be a spendthrift who is more serious when behaving like a drunken sailor than when he sits behind his desk at his George Street office.

For the sake of “Long Bench” or “Ataya Base” argument, let’s assume that the SLPP indeed “inherited a broken economy”. But we all know that it never inherited a broken electricity power generation and distribution system. In 2007 when the All People’s Congress (APC) took over from the SLPP of ex-President Ahmad Tejan Kabba(h), the entire country’s electricity production was 47million kilowatt hours raised from a mere 10 megawatts. But at the time when ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma was handing over the country to President Bio; Sierra Leone had 350 million kilowatt hours produced from over 280 megawatts.

But today the SLPP government is slowly taking Sierra Leone back to those days when the country was one of the darkest in the world. At present, most parts if not all of the capital Freetown are experiencing chronic blackouts or erratic power supplies. Even at times when the electricity supply is stable; that stability could be likened to a Christmas tree. Apart from Freetown, one of the strongholds of the SLPP, Bo city in the south, is reported to be blanketed by electricity power cuts to the extent that the main Government Hospital there is becoming dysfunctional at best! And in Kenema city the situation is said to be as hopeless as it is in Kono both in the eastern parts of Sierra Leone.

And with such horrible electricity power cuts taking over the country Mr Saffa, a man who behaves like a tasteless comedian, could still muster the audacity to insult ordinary Sierra Leoneans further by telling Parliament last Friday that, “…Electricity supply has increased and is being extended to previously under-served areas…” Such a statement could be best described as comedy at its poorest or a tongue-in-the-cheek from an eccentric Finance Minister who loves hearing his own high-sounding emptiness in a husky voice!

The SLPP government is now behaving like the court jester who the king has suddenly become tired of because his recycled jokes are no longer humorous. If the Bio-led government is having great difficulties in paying salaries on time, or not able to pay some salaries at all because the current ‘improved’ Wage Bill is burdensome; then how could Jacob Jusu Saffa be talking about increasing “the minimum wage” or “30% increment on the salaries of teachers?” In that case, if there is Alice in Wonderland; then Literature-dom has just had a Jacob Jusu Saffa in Dreamland!

It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with a quote from Samuel Foote that, “He [Jacob Jusu Saffa] is not only dull in himself, but the cause of dullness in others”. Little wonder the latest Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Scorecard rates the Bio-led administration’s fiscal policy, of which Mr Saffa is the economic czar, an abysmal “4%” from an inherited 43% from the APC.

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