Kandeh K.Yumkella Speaks

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 Kandeh K.Yumkella Speaks

By Kandeh Yumkella

During a hunting trip at the beginning of the year, I used the quiet walk through the woods to reflect on 2019. In an effort to understand ordinary people’s perspectives about their welfare and aspirations, I dialogued with students and young professionals, and NGOs in Bo, Kambia and Makeni, and visited market women and youth groups in some parts of Freetown. I concluded that the best characterization would be that 2019 was one of our Country’s ‘Annus Horribilis’ – Bad Year.

Annus Horribilis?

It is in 2019 that life  became extremely difficult for the already suffering masses of our country such that popular culture coined the phrase  “De Gron Dry” (the ground is dry) and, by mid-year, the  phrase was upgraded to “De Game Don Babala” (Things have gone worse) to reflect the level of threat to their welfare. By the end of the year, the threat level was revised to “De Game Don Potor-Potor.” (Everything has collapsed).  It sounds as if the people, especially the youth, feel we are heading for dystopia.

The vast majority of the population saw their real income (adjusted for inflation) decline precipitously as the prices of basic food items doubled or tripled (at the lowest unit of retail by the pint, dozen, packet, or cube). For example, from March 2018 to October 2019 prices for a cup of rice rose from Le 1,200 to Le 2,500; Gari from Le 500 to Le 1,500; a pint of Palm Oil from Le2,500 to Le 3,500, a dozen of Herring from Le 1,500 to Le 8,000.

The prices increased further because of the increase in fuel price and transportation cost in January that year due to a combination of factors including high transportation costs, currency devaluation (11%), general inflation (16-18%), and retroactive enforcement of fees, excise and other taxes on business. Add to the list of causal factors, the hidden high transaction costs

(unnecessary bureaucratic hassles and inefficiencies) of getting things done in our country e.g. clearing goods at the port, moving commodities and goods to markets, filing a case with the police, filing a case at the courts, accessing medical services, etc.

These increases add to the high cost of doing business, erosion of the discretionary income of households and dramatic drop in our people’s welfare. No wonder recent social protection assessments and household survey suggest that over 60% of our people are in multidimensional poverty and 12% live in abject poverty. As I have stated before in my numerous articles and radio interviews, economic indicators are stubborn, and propaganda cannot change them.

Our country is also suffering from state capture.  For example, in 2018, MDAs and agencies submitted claims of total arrears owed to local suppliers and contractors as Le 11.59 trillion ($1.37 billion). When a deep verification exercise was carried out, only Le4.5 trillion ($531 million, 40%) was genuine outstanding claims. In other words, the kleptocrats and their partners had planned to dupe the people of this country le7 trillion ($839 million) which is almost double the total revenue collected in 2018 (Le4.35 trillion) and 2019 (Le4.1 trillion, Jan-Sept), an amount that can finance free education and free health care for 2-3 years.

Second, on the political front, there was also heightened governance distress in 2019. All but two bye-elections were violent that resulted in the unnecessary   loss of life in Tonko Limba following blatant attack on polling stations, political leaders and political party offices. A vicious cycle of “Do-me-ah-Do-you” (Tit-for-Tat) became the new normal, which continued in 2020.

The recent decline by 16 points in the 2019 World Economic Freedom Index suggests that basic freedoms in Sierra Leone are being eroded. The judicial system has compounded the cleavages in the political landscape, with glaring selective justice, refusal by the Supreme Court to seat on cases, or proffer simple legal opinions; yet others in the judiciary out rightly take politically biased positions. Many citizens or businesses I have had the privilege to talk to have little or no faith in the much-touted judicial reforms that remain to be implemented, if ever.

Parliament, the people’s house, has not given succor to the people due to missteps, rancor, and accusation of corruption as well as lack of a more robust check on the Executive Branch. All these issues cast a cloud of uncertainty, and insecurity about where the nation is heading.  The Auditor General’s Report of December 2019 eroded confidence that real change was on the way.

The report exposed the existence of systemic rot, unbridled corruption that have contributed to wrecking the economy over several years.  In other words, corruption and patronage have been entrenched leading, for example, to the disappearance of Le 141 billion representing funds allocated to Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Local Councils. It would appear that the ongoing Commissions of Inquiry and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) are not serving as a deterrent for the thieving culture of the middle and lower cadres of public officials.

Third, there seems to be a moral decline in society. Despite all the prayers for the nation, crusades, and “Sarah”, our young children continue are exposed to even more-heinous behaviors daily. For example, though the Government and Parliament have taken a tough stand on sexual violence, rapes that are more egregious have occurred, as was the recent case of the gang rape of the sister of one of the paramount chiefs in Bonthe.

We also experienced the real manifestation of a dysfunctional and low-quality educational system when 90% of the students who took the WASCE exams failed and revelations of endemic organized-cheating and spying were made. There seems to be a growing drug problem that has now metamorphosed into a “pampas-tea” binge drinking. All these governance and social problems are signs of moral decay. They may suggest that as a society, we are in a race to the bottom. My fear is that things could get out of hand, as we approach the midpoint of the electoral cycle by the second half to 2020.

Hope, Change and Transparency?

However, not all was doom and gloom. We should acknowledge our government’s efforts in launching several initiatives in a bid to address the economic, governance and social problems highlighted above. The many components of the fiscal consolidation and human capital development, the rise in revenue collection, the launch of the national development plan, the revival of the Premier League, Hands of our Girls Campaign, Bintumani-III Conference, presidential dinner with the Fourth Estate, and the aggressive drive of the Free Quality Education Initiative.

However, the opening statement of the President at the Ministerial Retreat a few weeks ago suggests that these efforts are not having the desired results so far. He has emphasized that he expects more delivery this year. The president is credited for being tough on non-performance by replacing several ministers. However, will he also sack some of the almost 300 executives in parastatals and boards who are underperforming and wasting billions of Leones of subsidies from the treasury ever year?

In Parliament, we also accomplished a lot. We approved 381 presidential appointees, passed 16 Bills and Acts, and we approved 30 international treaties and protocols.  In spite of much heated debates, we have strengthened the Anti-Corruption Commission, amended a number of existing laws related to economic and financial management such as the single treasury account, the Extractive Industries Revenue Act, the Bank of Sierra Leone Act, and the NACSA Act. We also passed the amendment of the Sexual Offenses Act. As suggested below, we could do even better.

The indefatigable ACC has made major strides resulting in national accolades from AWOL and the 10 points rise in the Transparency International Global Corruption Ranking. The judges at the Commission of Inquiry (COI) have patiently and diligently steered the proceedings to allow both prosecutors and the defense to present their cases. The revelations of billions of expenditures without recourse to Parliamentary approval or appropriation, violations of procurement rules and over-invoicing, and unexplained wealth have been mind-boggling.  However, the public sentiment is that no action will be taken on the Judges report. Thus, the COI might fizzle away into nothingness, or simply become a tale full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.

The Way Forward

What do we expect in 2020? This year, we should come together as one people to move our country forward.  The problems are so serious that we should put partisan politics aside and Put Salone Fos. One man, or one party, alone cannot fix decades of a kleptocratic patronage system. There are no quick fixes. The focus should be on Delivery, Compliance and Enforcement. I agree with Mr. President that there is need to ensure effective delivery on the government’s programs, which includes the work plans and various performance compacts signed by MDAs with State House.

I suggest to Mr. President that the top priority should also be compliance with recommendations of the Auditor General (some spanning over the last 15 years) as the key to achieving his deliverables. He should understand that the kleptocratic machinery and patronage system that manages state affairs prefer business as usual. The system that stole Ebola funds when thousands of their compatriots were dying is the same machinery that caused Le 141 billion to disappear in 9 months of a new regime.

The year 2020 must be a year of enforcement of the key targets, especially macroeconomic targets, set by Mr. President. The president must push back on the insatiable appetite and Keynesian mind set of some in his team to tax and spend. Greater fiscal discipline should be a priority in 2020 to keep public spending below 24% of GDP, the deficit below 3% of GDP, and the wage bill below 6% of GDP. Talk-and-do means that these targets, which are gleaned from the President’s address to Parliament in May 2019, must be enforced.

If the above is achieved, then Mr. President can lower the GST to 12% to spur consumer spending, sell 30% of the shares in Rokel Commercial Bank and privatize SIERRATEL to raise capital to support SMEs, agribusiness and export growth. An independent economic advisory team could help guide further investments in private sector-led growth. A well-planned integrated school feeding program could help revitalize the agriculture sector, promote rural development and achieve the key nutritional targets set out in the scale-up-nutrition program.

Parliament could also make the political space more inclusive and transparent by passing deep electoral reform laws consistent with the over 100 recommendations of the international observers in the 2018 general and presidential election.  We should be progressive by passing  the 2-Sim bill in 2020, including removing the requirement that people should resign one year from their jobs before they can contest elections, and making it law that women should occupy at least 30% of parliamentary/elective positions. We should allow a debate on the report of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).

We should also revamp the public order act/criminal libel laws; enact a competition and investment promotion law, a government transition act including a provision that no tribe should hold more than 30% of positions in public institutions. These legislative actions do not require a minister presenting a bill; they simply require a core group of progressive legislators exercising their power under section 105 of the 1991 Constitution. It will enshrine this Parliament’s place in history as the “emancipation parliament” similar to those MPs who heralded independence in the 1960s.

I remain hopeful that the allegations of corruption in the House will be dealt with by the Auditor-General so that the sanctity of the House is protected. Above all, an inclusive and peaceful political space will go a long way to assuage the fears of citizens and foreign investors. We should tap into the pool of professionals in our country irrespective of tribe or political persuasions to tackle the myriad of challenges we face. Let us put Salone Fos!

$12.4m For Ebola Survivors

The Ministry of Finance has on Thursday 13th February, 2020 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mano River Union on the implementation of the post Ebola recovery social investment fund project worth USD 12.4 million.

In the signing ceremony, the Country Program Officer of Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Madam Felicitan Atanga said the signing of the MOU is one of the conditions of the first disbursement and the other outstanding condition is the approval of the Chairman of the Steering Committee.

She said the project will alleviate the suffering and improve the livelihood of the Ebola Survivors, noting that they are happy that the project is back on the table.

She emphasized that, MRU is coordinating the three countries i.e. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as far as this project is concern and that they believe the affected Ebola population will benefit through this project.

According to the Minister of Finance Jacob Jusu Saffa, sometimes last year when the Ministry was reviewing the different projects in the Country, they found out that this project was almost dead since 2016 without attention.

 The Minister said after the review process, he engaged AfDB on the project, noting that this is a manifestation of government commitment to alleviate the suffering of Ebola survivors in the country.

“There are guided rules that have to be followed in using the money. If they are not followed, the Bank will withdraw their money. So many projects have been stalled as a result of bureaucracies in procurement and recruitment,” he said.

According to the minister, these are some of the issues that are responsible for the delay in implementing projects. He therefore urged all parties concern in the implementation of the project to treat the project as a Government of Sierra Leone Project rather than as an AfDB

He said the Ministries of Health in respective countries will conduct psycho-social counseling, infection prevention, health promotion activities, community outreach and capacity building of training institutions.

 He continued that, the training of the social workers will be under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender.

The project beneficiaries include the populations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone along the borders of the three countries, targeting: (i) community members including youths, women, men, children, people with disabilities and the elderly, (ii) health workers, (iii) community volunteers and social protection officers.

 Specifically, the project intends to provide benefits to 5,000 Ebola survivors, 2000 orphans, 75 community groups, 300 cross-border traders, 450 social workers and 6,000 micro and small enterprises across the three affected countries.

UNICEF Approves 290,000 Birth & Death Certificates

The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF)  has officially presented a securitised births and deaths certificates  to the Director General of the National Civil Registration  Authority(NCRA) Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi.

The event took place at the St. Authority’s Conference Room on Walpole Street, Freetown.

A consignment of 170,000 newly printed securitised births certificates and 120,000 newly printed securitised death certificates were handed over to the NCRA.

The ceremony saw senior staff from NCRA, UNICEF, Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and the Media.

In his brief remarks the NCRA Director of Information Communication and Education (IEC), Thomas P. Sowa appealed to the media to continue to raise awareness about the importance of registering births and deaths and obtaining certificates for these vital events.

 Deputy Representative of UNICEF Rushnan Murtaza, said that she was very pleased to handover newly certificates.

 She said the new certificates had been printed in line with specific Government guidelines, which would minimize the chances of counterfeiting.

 She emphasized the importance of a birth certificate to the very existence of a child in any country, especially Sierra Leone.

“These certificates will contribute to the unwavering efforts of NCRA of making access to a birth certificate a reality for all children” Rushnan Murtaza stated.

  She noted that a birth certificate is a proof of legal identity and emphasized that it is the basis upon which children can establish a nationality in every country, avoid the risk of statelessness and seek protection from violence and exploitation.

  She added that the right to be recognized as a person in any country before the law starts from obtaining a birth certificate, as it ensures a lifelong protection to mankind, especially children.

She said that several international conventions underpinned the importance of giving a child a name, especially Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which underscores the right to name a child.

“The printing of these new certificates is one important step on the journey towards guaranteeing that every child in Sierra Leone is duly registered with civil authorities and to make sure that no child is left behind” she said.

Madam Rushnan Murtaza informed the Director General of NCRA that UNICEF stands ready to actualize the recommendations from the 2019 Comprehensive Country Assessment of the Civil Registration, Vital Statistics and Identity Management system, by creating public awareness and knowledge on Civil Registration, Vital Statistics for better public participation and also to provide quality service delivery through a continuously-trained and well-resourced staff.

She also assured the DG of UNICEF’s continued support in providing technical assistance to NCRA towards building a digital platform using mobile technology, which she said will help monitor the notification of new births by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) to NCRA.

She recognized the tireless effort of the Director General of NCRA in ensuring that everyone is registered especially children under age 5. Despite these gains, she encouraged the DG to focus more effort in making sure that every child born in Sierra Leone obtains a birth certificate which currently stands at 33%.

“Data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 2017, tells us that 81% of children under the age of five are registered, making the country one of those with the highest registration rate in the region” she confirmed.

 Receiving the documents, the Director General of NCRA Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi, extended gratitude to the Government and UNICEF for their invaluable efforts in ensuring that Sierra Leone is in conformity with international best practice.

He said the event was the beginning of the realization of the commitment made by His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September, 2019.

This he noted,  is part of President Bio’s New Direction Agenda in making sure that development is giving a human face by providing a singular, securitised, and serially numbered instrument- birth certificate, to every citizen of this country.

He explained  that the certificates would  help strengthen and give more credence to birth registration system in the country, as it is the ultimate foundation for legal identity in any country around the world.

“These instruments cannot be forged. They constitute the National Identification Numbers (NIN) that are assigned to every resident in Sierra Leone (citizens and foreign residents) and are non-duplicating, non-reusable and non-replicating”he noted.

Mohamed A. Bangura, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the Directorate of Policy and Planning, Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), thanked NCRA, UNICEF and the government of Sierra Leone for guaranteeing lifelong protection for the people of this country, by providing them with securitised births and deaths certificates.

He said MOHS is working closely with NCRA to ensure that every child has a birth certificate.

The Acting Director of Births and Deaths Brima Kamara commended UNICEF for their continued support in strengthening civil registration, vital statistics and Identity management system in Sierra Leone.

He said that the securitised certificates will adequately serve its purpose, as they will complement government’s effort in the fight against fraud in the country through illegal identity.

AfDB President holds talks with Pres. Bio  

 President of the African Development Bank, AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has engaged President Dr Julius Maada Bio at a side event of the AU Summit running from 8-10 February 2020 and proposed ways they can work with Sierra Leone to improve farming, scale up nutrition and defeat stunting in children.

“Mr President, malnutrition accounts for at least 11 per cent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product. We have 65 per cent of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land. We have an abundance of freshwater and about 300 days of sunshine a year. There’s no reason for anyone to go hungry,” he said. 

Dr Adesina, who expressed interest to visit Sierra Leone in mid-March, also told the President and his delegation that the Bank had already committed some US$14 million, which would be finalised by June this year, to specifically target innovation in agriculture, tackle corruption in fertilizer, seeds acquisition and distributions to farmers in the country.

Before he joined AfDB, the multilateral regional development finance institution based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in 2015, Dr Adesina was Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture from 2011 to 2015 where he was widely credited for reducing the risk of corruption in the fertilizer industry by putting the private sector in charge of delivery.

He made reference to the Brazilian model of reducing malnutrition, adding that the country had a zero hunger programme that prioritized high level of hygiene, high quality of food and feeding in schools and made sure that most of what was supplied and served were produced by local farmers.

He urged the government of Sierra Leone to adopt that model by having a direct stake in the feeding of their children in schools, thereby increasing enrolment, retention and the overall achievement of reducing hunger and meeting the nutrition target of the country.

Dr Adesina observed that: “Farming might not be attractive in Sierra Leone because there is no guarantee facility for lending to farmers. We can continue to engage your government to ensure the de-risking farming, introducing new rice variety”, especially in a country where rice is grown under upland, inland swamp, boliland, riverain swamp, and mangrove swamp conditions.

In his contribution, Education Minister for junior and secondary school, Dr Moinina David Sengeh, assured the AfDB chief, who had praised the President’s respect for quality data, that the Directorate of Science Innovation and Technology, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, had created the Integrated Geographic Information System Portal to utilise technology, software and devices to collect, label and model data to inform real-time government and development partner decision making.

In his remarks, President Bio thanked the AfDB President for the consideration to support Sierra Leone and said he wished they had increased their investment, to which Dr Adesina said they would take note. 

“We have placed food security at the centre of our Human Capital Development priorities. We believe that food security and nutrition are inextricably connected to the total development of the human being in achieving their full potential,” he said.

President Bio emphasised that the greatest contributor to economic growth was not physical infrastructure but “brainpower, what I can refer to as grey matter infrastructure”, and called on the AfDB and other partners to invest in better nutrition for children who were the future of the continent.

Bamako-Freetown Rally convention…

 700 Tourists Jet in

By: Amara Kargbo

 Sierra Leone will be hosting what is tagged as Budapest-Bamako-Freetown Rally convention which will see a figure of 700 participants (tourists) from eighty (80) different countries around the world to rally round the event.  A statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs said the Ministry will be the key driver on the event which will take place on the 15th February.

Dr. Menunatu Pratt, Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs told journalists that the Budapest Rally had already commenced on the 31st January, 2020 from other different countries, and so the occasion will end their transit in Sierra Leone.

She said that Sierra Leone is very serene, and through the strides the ministry is making in the tourism sector , the country had gained an emblem to be considered as a key  tourism  destination .

She explained that the tourists will on the 15th February, 2020, and the ministry had engaged with other-line ministries and agencies to ensure that tourists have a good ambiance ever.

Her ministry, she continued, had been making numerous arrangements of activities and  th

at they had as well gotten the authentic biographies of all  700 tourists.

The first tour, according to her,  will be at Masiaka, where  the ministry will equip areas with medical facilities; including water boozer , and other items .

This will follow by a traditional/ cultural events of libation and other activities to showcase the  good cultural heritage of the country, and on Sunday 16th February, 2020 , the team will travel to Freetown for the host of the official event at National Stadium.

The events, she noted , will occasioned  talks around charity race; fighting against climate change;  while the visitors will make  donations, and the planting of 2000 trees.

SLAJ President Speaks on World Radio Day

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has on   Thursday, 13th February, 2020, joins the rest of the world in observing WORLD RADIO DAY 2020.

This day celebrates the role of radio in educating people, providing information, and promoting freedom of expression and democratic dialogue across nations.

In Sierra Leone, radio remains the most pervasive. The bulk of the population, especially in rural Sierra Leone, depend on radio for information. Limited technological infrastructure, lack of electricity, expensive data, etc. are real challenges that make radio easily accessible and the cheapest medium of communication for national development.

Moreover, in this age of growing social media and mis-information, radio has proven to be quite reliable, an avenue for views of ordinary people to be heard and an important platform for democratic dialogue.

On this day, I want to especially throw light on Community Radio Stations and the important role they play in informing and educating remote communities.

Sadly, quite recently NATCOM closed down a number of radio stations, including community radios, for failure to pay annual regulation or spectrum fees. While SLAJ is in the process of engaging NATCOM on this, we call on regulators to treat community radios as providing a public service, and not treat them as commercial entities.

Community radios are a valuable development tool and partner and must be regarded as such.

Meanwhile, on behalf of SLAJ, let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to all station managers holding the fort, especially women station managers like

 Asmaa James,

Hawa Tucker,

Sarah Rogers,

Tiana Alpha,

Patricia Ganda,

Esther Kanneh Kargbo and

Aminata Finda Massaquoi

who are blazing the trail.

Finally, let me also recognize the role of the Independent Radio Network (IRN) over the years and welcome in advance the newly formed Sierra Leone Broadcasters Association.

 ACC Boss gives  Public Lectures  

The Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. (LLM (Lond.), LLM (USA), LLB (Hons.), B.L) will be delivering FOUR respective Public Lectures in the following weeks as follows:

1. The University of Makeni (UNIMAK) on the Topic: “Reinforcing the Anti-Corruption War in the Education Sector: The Role of Tertiary Institutions (Administration & Students) in Reclaiming Sierra Leone’s Declining Academic Glory” on February 17th, 2020 at 4pm at the UNIMAK AUDITORIUM in Makeni;  on the Invitation of the Faculty and the Students’ Representative Council of UNIMAK;

2. The Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) on the topic _”Implementing Electronic Procurement in Sierra Leone: ” Using Prevention Systems as a sterility Pill for the “Mother” of Most Corruption in Sierra Leone”on February 20th, 2020 at 10:30 am at the Miatta Conference Centre, Brookfields, Freetown on the Invitation of the Department of Extra Mural Studies and Outreach Unit of IPAM;

3. The Sierra Leone Law  School’s Foundation Day Lecture”* on the topic: _Kpana Before the Gatekeepers: Dismantling the Designed Roadblocks to Accessing the Law by the Ordinary Man” on February 28th 2020 at 11:00am at the Sierra Leone Law School Lecture Halls, Special Court Compound, New England, Freetown; on the Invitation of the Chief Justice (Chairman of The Council of Legal Education) and the Ag. Director & Registrar of the Sierra Leone Law School; and,

4. The Port Loko Youth Conference on the Topic: “Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Revolution: The Role of Young People in building a sustained culture of Integrity and Accountability”_; on February 28th 2020 at 11:00am at the Port Loko District Council Conference Hall, Port Loko City; on the Invitation of the Youth Council of Port Loko.

ACC Signs MOU With Assets Commission

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on Wednesday 12th February, 2020, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Assets and Government Property Commission (NAGPC) at its 3 Gloucester Street Office in Freetown. The MOU outlines commitment to joint-engagement and partnership between the two institutions.  The move is geared towards facilitating the smooth accomplishment of the mandates of the two institutions in ensuring the best use, monitoring, management and disposal of properties and assets of the Government of Sierra Leone and foster cooperation and collaboration between the two institutions

In his statement, Deputy Commissioner of ACC, Augustine Foday-Ngobie, expressed his appreciation for the efforts of public institutions in forging a workable relationship with the ACC. He said that the mandate of the ACC is to provide leadership in the fight against corruption. “The ACC is ready to work with any institution in the fight against corruption,” the ACC Deputy Commissioner said. 

Mr. Ngobie described the signing ceremony as another milestone for the two institutions. He said that the ACC has been protecting and recovering government properties, noting that in 2019 the Commission recovered a hotel building which was handed over to the Government. He said the Commission appreciates the partnership, hoping that the two institutions will stand out and work for the good of Sierra Leone. 

The Commissioner of NAGPC Abu Hindolo Moseray said his institution has a mandate to establish a National Assets Register, to make provision for the control and identification of all national assets and Government’s property, to provide for the maintenance and improvement of such property and the monitoring of their use or disposal. He said however that the Act that establishes the Commission does not make provision for punitive measures to be taken against defaulters. He said the MoU with the ACC is important because they (the ACC) have the powers to prosecute any person who misuses or misappropriates Government assets and property. He added that as a nation, there is need to do more in managing the assets and property of the State efficiently and effectively.

The ceremony was chaired by Patrick Sandi, Director of Public Education and Outreach ACC, while the citation marking the signing of the MoU was read by Koma Gandy-Williams, ACC’s Assistant Information Officer.

Pres. Bio Engages UAE on Plans to Improve Education

 His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has met with members of the Global Education Management System, GEMS Education from the United Arab Emirates, UAE and discussed plans on improving the educational sector in the country.

GEMS Education is a global advisory and educational management firm, known for its prominence in operating from kindergarten to high schools across the world. Through its consultancy arms, GEMS Education Solutions, the company works internationally with public and private sector clients on school improvement initiatives. It was founded in 2000 and headquartered in Dubai, UAE.

Presenting the delegation at the State Lodge on Hill Station, Sierra Leone Ambassador to the UAE, Rashid Sesay, said that they were in country on a fact-finding mission in the education sector, the government’s flagship programme. He said that GEMS had expressed interest to assess what was happening in the country and noted that the visit was a highlight of several discussions with their UAE counterparts.

Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr Moinina David Sengeh, said that his ministry had done a lot of preliminary work that was data-driven, underpinning government’s strategy for education. He stated that his team had done some background and research work in preparation for the visit, while assuring that they were ready to work with the visiting team to have definitive answers at the end of the trip.

GEMS Global Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Asad Zafar, said that they were pleased with the warm reception accorded them since their arrival into the country, adding that they were delighted to be in country to commence the fact-finding mission.

He expressed excitement about the prospects in Sierra Leone and President Bio’s passion for education and was happy to join the country to make a difference.

Special Adviser to Founder Varkey Foundation and GEMS Education, Shantha Retnasingam, said that: “My prime aim here is to work with the Sierra Leonean team to identify how we can mobilize resources for the various projects which we will be looking at. We are happy to be in this country”.

In his response, President Julius Maada welcomed the visiting team and said that Sierra Leone was once known as a center for quality education and for producing the best personnel across the continent. He noted that over the years, the country had lost its place but assured that they were ready to restore the past glory.

“We know that we cannot be part of the fourth industrial revolution if we do not have a literate population and that is why, as a small nation, we are determined to pre-position ourselves. As a government, we have resolved that we can change the old narrative. So, we need your knowledge and expertise as we embark on this journey. Education is what we want to give to every child and we are committed to that,’’ he said.

Journalist’s murder trial…

State Lawyer Requests High Court  Referral   

BY FEIMA SESAY

 . The lead prosecutor in the murder case of the late Journalist Ibrahim Samura of New Age Newspaper Adrain Fisher y on 12 February 2020 asked magistrate Mark Ngegba  to send Abu Bakarr Daramy and Herbert George Williams to the high court for further trial on the grounds that the evidence against them was over whelming.

His application was made following the No-Case submission that was made on Monday by the lead defense lawyer for the accused Melron C. Nicol Wilson that there was no evidence against the accused persons and that the matter should be discharged.

In reply said the prosecution relied on the Common law concept and that there was sufficient evidence against the accused to warrant the committal of the matter to the high court for further trial, adding that the No-Case Submission made by defense counsel has no base and merit citing section 120 of the CPA.

 He added that he relied on a Joint Enterprise Murder and that it basic principle in criminal law.

Whiles he was going through the evidence, said the evidence placed before the court was overwhelming and the task of the bench is to cross-check the totality of that evidence citing paragraph 22 where he says there is no question that the deceased died.

He said the evidence of PW1 Dr. Simeon Owizz Koroma a Government Pathologist stated that the death of the deceased was neither Accidental nor Suicidal but Homicide and that the cause of death was due to blunt force injury.

Lawyer Fisher said that evidence was not controverted in any way, adding that there was no evidence or expert to suggest that there was no case of death on the day of the incident none of them were present at the scene, But said there was evidence to show that the accused persons, former deputy minister of Trade Ibrahim Woshinga Mansaray Sanusi Bruski ,Dankay Koroma  and other government officials were at the scene.

He also disclosed that there was evidence of dog chain which was used to beat the deceased and said both accused were associated with the case from inception.

He continued further in his reply that the

Summary evidence of Thomas Dixon was that he was chase together with the deceased by guards at the Lumley Round About and that subsequently the deceased was twice heated on his head with a dog chain and that second accused Herbert George Williams was there.

He referred the bench to page 49 of his reply which states that other people including the accused persons beat the deceased whiles he was trying to take photos with his phone and that Sanusi Bruiski took the phone  the deceased was using.

He also referred the bench to exhibit P-1-4 which he said were words spoken by the deceased before his death and said it was the accused persons that gave the instructions to the security to beat him and therefore said the matter should go to the high court for further trial

He said first and second accused in their statements to the police said they cannot recollect the incident on that day and urged the bench to take cognizance of the fact that the incident was so much that they could not recollect.

Lawyer fisher stated that all the witnesses identified the accused as been present at the scene on the day of the incident, adding that criminal law is very clear in simple term that the Act of the accused persons is associated with the offences which led to the significant death of the deceased.

In conclusion said the evidence adduced before the court is base on Joint Criminal Enterprise which is over whelming sufficient to warrant the committal of the matter to the high court, nothing that there is a clear evidence of conspiracy by the accused persons by their movement from Hill Station to Lumley.

He therefore urged the court to commit both accused persons to the high court for further trial.

Lawyer Nicol Wilson in reply said all the witnesses in the matter said the deceased was assaulted by a state house security, adding that the concept of a joint criminal enterprise does not apply in Sierra Leone but a legal doctrine used during war crime.

He stated further that, it only has a place in International Criminal tribunal. He said there is no evidence in court show that it was the accused that assaulted the deceased and that his death was caused by them but a states house security which the prosecution has fail to identify.

 He said the prosecutor mention a number of authority and concept but did not go to the fact of the matter.

In his submission further stated that the most important witnesses the bench should consider I that of PW1-4 who were Eye witnesses that stated that the deceased was assaulted by some state house securities, adding that no evidence was led to support the statement of the deceased that it was the accused that gave the instructions for him to be beaten.

In this light, urged the bench to discharge the accused persons for wants of prosecution as he said there was no evidence led against them.

Magistrate Mark Ngegba however adjourned the matter to the 19 February 2020 for ruling whiles the accused were sent back to prison.

 Unfinished Building Collapses

At least five (5) people were rescued last Tuesday 11th February 2020 at 32 Fourah Bay Road when a wall of an unfinished building collapsed and covered them.

Crime officer Madam Deboral Sesay at Eastern Police Station told this press that police is yet to confirm what caused the collapsed of the wall and they did not see the contractor and the owner of the building on arrival at the scene.

 She said, the police are yet to confirm the number of victims involved.

Madam Sesay described the scene as pathetic, noting that efforts were made by the youths to rescue the victims.

Alpha Jah, a volunteer youth said that he ran to the scene when he heard the sound of the building, adding that most of the victims are believed to be traders with only one boy who went to buy food.

Observers attributed the collapse of the wall to that of  

 Poor engineering and construction work.

However, the victims have been taken to the Connaught Hospital for medication.

 Social media misuse…

Police Arrest 7

At 18:00 hours on Monday, this medium got reliable information from the Cyber unit and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)   that these two departments have   arrested   seven alleged fake and mischievous Social media Propagandists of the main opposition, the APC party.

It could be recalled that exactly six days ago, a malicious, baseless, unfounded and a scantly press release was posted on various social media platforms alleging the disbandment of the Sierra Leone Police by the Office of the President.

The article alleged that the President has disbanded the SLP and all its affiliated bodies.

As a law enforcing agency of government and one that has the obligation of maintaining public order as stipulated in the 1965 public order act, under the 1991 constitution as amended, the institution had no alternative but to go into operation.

As a reputable social media platform, we see and support such an adequate and proactive action executed by the Sierra Leone Police in order to maintain the country’s hard earned peace and to deter hoodlums from involving into such an unpatriotic act in the future.

We are also calling on the SLP to do everything in it powers to bring all perpetrators allegedly named, but required further investigations in the said act to be brought to book.

 NewBondo without Cutting Initiative Upholds Traditions

By Ragan M. Conteh

According to the 2017 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Sierra Leone is among the countries in Africa with the highest prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The first initiates of ‘’bondo without Cutting’’ posed with AIM SL Director Rugiatu Koroma (at center) in Port Loko District

The DHS shows that in the Southern province of Sierra Leone, approximately 83% of all women and girls have undergone FGM, while in the Northern Province the prevalence is 93%, Eastern Province 91% and Western Area 77%, respectively.

Madam Rugiatu Neneh Koroma, the founder and Executive Director of the Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM) says that the FGM aspect of “bondo” society should be removed based on health, social and economic risks associated to it. For this reason, her organization has initiated the new method of “bondo” without cutting as a pilot phase in the Port Loko district.

In this new method of bondo practice, Madam Koroma explains, initiates are no longer subjected to FGM or

“cutting”. Rather, the ceremonies focus on the other traditional aspects of bondo, including celebrating the new initiates and upholding wholesomely the aspects of bondo society, including dancing, teaching women and girls to respect elders, how to take care of their husbands, children and members of the family among others.

“Bondo society is a place where women can learn and imbibe the culture of good leadership in their communities,” says Madam Koroma, who explains that this is still the case with the new model – the only difference is that it no longer needs to involve shedding any blood.

One of the reasons Madam Koroma says FGM has persisted so long is that many bondo initiators, called “sowies”, rely on income from parents, as payment to complete initiation ceremonies. However, she says that, with this new model of “bondo without cutting”, sowies can still earn their livelihood for initiating new members of the society, without having to harm them through FGM.

“Another reason we want to push for the removal of cutting in bondo society,” she explains, “is that in many cases, underage girls do go into these bondo shrines without prior knowledge of [what will happen to them there] – which is an act of deceit.”

Besides being a violation of human and child rights to perform such harmful practices on girls without their informed consent, Madam Koroma says that FGM also carries no health benefit. In fact, women and girls who have experienced FGM face increased risks during and immediately after childbirth, including an increased need for caesarean sections and prolonged hospital stays.

“Women do not want a culture that will kill,” she says.

“Women have died at the hospital as a result of health implications from FGM. They want the culture that will help uplift their dignity.” This, she believes, is where “bondo without cutting” can help, by maintaining traditions and celebrating girls’ rites of passage, but without causing bodily harm.

In the area of providing alternative means of livelihood for the initiators or “sowies”, Madam Koroma stated that her organization has established a skills training centre where these women are being trained in income-generating arts including tailoring, soap making, and gara tie dying.

According to her, due to this initiative, over 40 long-standing sowies have now surrendered their instruments, promising that they will never go back to their usual practices.

Speaking from a United Nations perspective, the UN Women Country Representative, Dr. Mary Okumu, said that the bondo without cutting initiative brought by AIM is a laudable venture that needs to be emulated across the country.

Dr. Okumu called on other initiators in other districts to copy this new model, as it causes no health harm to either the women or the communities.

The Girl Child Network is a national non-governmental organization working to promote child rights in Sierra Leone. Its Director, Madam Anita Koroma, said that women and girls of this country have suffered due to the terrible practice of FGM, and many of them have lost their lives, dignity, or been permanently disabled as a result. For these reasons, she says her organization will continue to support AIM to ensure that this heinous practice is eliminated.

“Most of those engaged into this harmful practice, according to our findings,” Madam Anita explains, “are the less privileged and vulnerable women in remote communities in Sierra Leone.” For these reasons, she says, widespread awareness raising and support are needed in order to educate them about the dangers of FGM.

According to Madam Anita, government has already passed a moratorium that girls below age 18 should not be initiated into FGM, but enforcement has been a challenge.

For one sowie, known as Sampa Soko, it understood the negative impacts that FGM can have which led her to join the “bondo without cutting” initiative. Sadly, she explains that she was one of those who initiated girls at Mile 91 last year, after which a 10 year old girl eventually lost her life, due to excessive bleeding after undergoing FGM.

“All what I have learned from AIM-SL, I see it with my naked eyes and I experience it long ago,” Sampa Soko says. “I am one among those that have disarmed and I will never go back into this cutting practice.”

A new initiate of bondo without cutting, Naimeh Ishmael, disclosed that parents are often responsible for influencing their young girls to initiate into the FGM practice.

However, she said with the alternative rite of passage offered thanks to “bondo without cutting”, their dignity has been restored. Additionally, she says that through this new process, the new initiates learned a lot during the recent two-week-long initiation period at Mathaska Village, interacting with UN Women representatives, women CSOs, women lawyers and many women of substance – something which has never happened in the history of bondo.

“I give thanks on behalf of my [fellow initiates],” says Naimeh Ishmael, “to Madam Neneh Koroma for making it possible to introduce a bondo practice that sees women have their respect and also benefits from womanhood trainings into the bondo bush. I am proud.”

The Section Chief of Maka Section in Port Loko District, Pa Alimamy Conteh says that bondo society without cutting is not a new phenomenon that AIM brings to Sierra Leone. Instead, he says it is just a reformation of the old traditions – omitting the harmful practice of FGM.

Pa Conteh says, of late bondo society has become a business entity in the country – so he is grateful that AIM-SL is working to wipe out the cutting, so as to save women and girls in the country.

He revealed that the recent bondo without cutting at Maka Section at Mathaska village is crystal clear and is geared towards enhancing the development of women and girls through responsible culture.

“I denied at first when AIM-SL Director told me about the first bondo without cutting,” he admits, “and I even asked how it can be possible to initiate women without cutting. But at last I saw the colorful events went on successfully in my section.”

The Paramount Chief of Teneh Chiefdom in the Tonkolili District, Bai Kafarie II, says he has also been convinced about the value of bondo without cutting – and has announced a ban on the practice of FGM in his chiefdom, in other to give chance to women and girls to grow with dignity and become responsible women in his jurisdiction.

“I cannot wait for government to ban this heinous practice [nation-wide],” says the chief. “I have the power as chief to do so [in my area] because the practice is demeaning for women, a lot of girls and women have died as a result of these traditions. We know that and everybody knows, so I have ordered all my sections and town chiefs to inform sowies about this development and no one will go against my authority.”

Ministry of Education on Zero Leones Innovation Challenge

After a successful World Read Aloud Day celebration that cost zero Leones to plan and execute nationwide, the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) has announced a new initiative. The Zero Leones Innovation Challenge which has started.

  1. It is a monthly competition that encourages staff at MBSSE to implement activities and interventions with no additional budgetary spending.  The challenge invites the Ministry’s staff to think outside the box.

The Zero Leones Innovation Challenge is a call for ideas simple, and complex; small or large that meets the Ministry’s mandate, improve staff welfare, and increase efficiency.

When the winning ideas are put into action, they must be visible, highly impactful, clearly measurable and sustainable. All staff members are encouraged to suggest ideas and to collaborate in teams to turn cost-free interventions into action. The suggested ideas will be evaluated monthly at the weekly upper management meeting. Winning Zero Leones Innovation Challenge submissions will be highlighted across the Ministry. 

While the Zero Leones Innovation Challenge starts today, the MBSSE has already implemented several ideas at zero cost. Recently student paintings and art from across the country were showcased at the Ministry as part of its beautification efforts. And last month, the Minister’s office recycled name tags collected from a national conference that are now being used as visitor tags at the MBSSE. The impact from these ongoing Zero Leones interventions includes reduction in trespassing and improvement in staff engagement. 

On World Read Aloud Day which is celebrated annually on February 5, MBSSE staff organized events all across the country including debate competitions in schools, radio programs and school visits at a cost of zero Leones to the Ministry. Citizens and partners including the Rokel Commercial Bank were engaged in reading activities at schools, libraries, and homes impacting thousands of students.

Violence Youth IN Police Net

As “Operation Public Order Response “plan operation moves toward its implementation to tackle public order violent related offences among others, the Freetown East Region, has no existing vacuum for unabated criminal activities more so when the region is directly under the watchful laser lens of AIG Aiah Edward Samadia whose desire is to ensure that his space, of command enjoys the utmost security than ever before.

 To achieve this objective, robust regular policing activities have been effected which encompass the revamping of all divisions with the “Quick Rapid Response Force”, meant to conduct robust patrols to readily respond to distress calls swiftly. The success of such plan operation requires the fullest participation of the communities in information gathering and sharing that bothers on security. This concept of Community’s Policing was practicalised by the Kissy Division’s Quick Rapid Force, Friday the 7th February 2020 around 6 PM by apprehending three (3) suspected clique boys. in an unfinished building at Pillah Street, Wellington. They were found in possession of   two (2) cutlasses, a bayonet, a kitchen knife a quantum of cannabis ( raps) and raps of illegal substance suspected to be “Kush” whilst on patrol. Definitely, this success story of the Quick Response Force of Kissy Division came about as a result of community support given to the police in the area of timely crime info sharing and the swift action taken by the team. All “QRF” team  in  the four (4) divisions and that of Jui Strong Hold are in high spirit and morally charged to quickly and rapidly respond to any given security situation. See photos bellow.

HOW VIABLE IS THE SLPP YOUTH CAR WASH SCHEME?

By Mohamed Juma Jalloh

Since the end of the brutal Civil war, Sierra Leone has been plagued with a problem referred to as youth quake.

This is a concept used to describe a teeming unemployed and underemployed youth population and the attendant threat posed to national stability.

Youths (15-35 years) accounts for about 33% of the country`s population and represent about 63% of the economically active population of which 67% are unemployed.Succesive governments lack the zest and seriousness in attaching topmost priority to the youth problem. The previous APC government reduced the youths to garbage collectors, in some instances even after rendering their services it would take threat of violence before paying their wages.

The urban youths that comprise of early school leavers and illiterate youths are mostly engaged in car wash to eke out daily sustenance. Almost every available unoccupied piece of land in Freetown is utilized as a car wash center, but the centers were unregulated and improperly managed.

Upon assumption into governance, the SLPP government decided to modernize and standardize the profession, thereby constructing 10 car wash centers across the capital city Freetown. The scheme which is co-funded by the government of Sierra Leone and the Chinese embassy paved the way for about 100 youths to be trained in modern car washing at the Ruminate car wash center at Hill Station in Freetown.

 The selection criteria for the training was largely based on political consideration as it is considered as payback moment for party loyalist constituting the violent minded party defense force. On-party faithfuls, hitherto engaged in the profession were marginalized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs. Mohamed Kamara who has been making a living as a car washer for the past decade at the Black Street stadium car park pitifully said he was excluded from the programme simply because he is not a party sympathizer.

 Kamara disclosed that pro-ruling party youths who were never engaged in car washing were selected for the training. In order to survive, Kamara said he is presently rendering laundering and water fetching to people in the community. Kamara is one of the youths whose hopes of securing gainful employment have been watered down by the SLPP government.

Considering the massive youth unemployment facing Sierra Leone, the car wash scheme is like a drop in the ocean. To make matters worse, the scheme is bedeviled by logistical challenges and poor management.

Allocating a car to washer is very chaotic. Even though there is a schedule list on the wall depicting names of duty bearers in the morning and afternoon, the youths don’t abide by the names on the list. they could flock from anywhere and render their service at the center because there are no identity cards to ensure proper identification of beneficiaries. When the project was launched in December 2019, lofty promises were echoed by the government as per remuneration and conditions of service. The price for washing a taxi is Le 15,000, private car is Le25,000, Jeep is Le30.000, tricycle is Le 10. 000, and motor bike is Le 10.000 respectively.

Whenever  a car is washed, 40% of the paid sum is retained by the washer, whiles the remaining 60% is deposited with the chairman of the center appointed by the Ministry of youth Affairs.

As of now, the initial commencement of the scheme has not shown signs of future prospects. Youths who spoke to the Public Review on conditions of anonymity for fear of reprisal and retribution says the government is yet to provide them with overall attires, rubber boots, safety caps and gloves to effectively carry on the exercise. The unavailability of such kits poses serious safety and security risks. Moreover, the machine that is used to forcefully propel the water malfunctions 2-3 times before the completion of cleaning a single car. For a center as big as the stadium car park, the availability of a single machine is simply not enough.

“Government must provide 5 machines for this center because it is the biggest of all the centers”. One of the car washers noted.

In its new direction manifesto, the SLPP castigates the APC regime for creating a tremor leading to a full blown youth quake situation with its attendant security and stability challenges. As a result, the SLPP promised an integrated, coherent and holistic approach that would ameliorate the suffering of the youths in Sierra Leone. As of writing, the youths engaged in the car wash scheme, have no medical and rent allowance. At the end of December 2019 the youths were giving an insulting Le 200.000 as salary far below the minimum wage. Youths engaged in the car wash are highly susceptible to sicknesses such as Pneumonia and tuberculosis because it is a waterborne profession. In the event, the youths succumb to such illnesses they would be at the mercy of destiny to either survive or perish. Suppose there is a fatal accident during work, the car washers are not covered by any accident insurance. Whenever their youthful period is exhausted there is no National Social Security cover to ensuring a dignified old age. Truth be told, politicians would never encourage their children and relatives to take up carwash jobs from any of the new refurbished car wash sites around city. The quest by the youths for a sustainable livelihood program is anchored on a desire to eliminate the poverty history in their lives and families. Therefore, it is wise and prudent for the government to adopt sustainable long term solutions towards addressing the plight of youths. Establishing industries that manufacture goods and render services alongside the provision for knowledge, skills transfer and value addition would go a long way in providing solutions to youth unemployment.

 As such, the car wash scheme needs a comprehensive and strategic review into a very sustainable approach towards salvaging the plight of our vulnerable young generation. If not, it is clear that these youths would revert to nefarious and mischievous activities.                        

DELIBERATIONS ON  MONETARY UNION.

The ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Meetings comprising of the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) and the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), have kicked off two weeks intensive deliberations, on a road map to monetary Union, in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the WAMA meetings, the Director General Mr. Momodu Bamba Saho, said economic activities in ECOWAS Member States generally continued to improve in 2019, in spite of global economic slowdown. He maintained that the meetings are being held against the backdrop of continued economic recovery in the region.

“The region is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Three Member States, Benin (7.6%), Cote d’lvoire (7.5%) and Ghana (7.1%) grew by over 7.0 percent in 2019. Twelve Member States are expected to grow by 5.0 percent or more in 2019.” he said.

According to him, in the area of compliance with the macroeconomic convergence criteria, Member States made some progress in the first half of 2019 as six (06) met all the four primary criteria compared to five (05) in the first half of 2018, adding that performance is expected to improve in the second half of the year as eight (08) Member States are projected to meet all the primary criteria at end-2019 compared to only two (02) at end-2018. He however noted that sustained achievement of all four primary convergence criteria has remained elusive, for Member States over several years.

“Although compliance with the convergence criteria has improved, Member States need to continue to strengthen policy implementation in order to comply with the convergence criteria and lay a strong basis for the establishment of monetary union.” he said.                                                     

In this regard, the Director General urged Member States to strengthen their resolve to maintain macroeconomic stability and put emphasis on economic diversification as well as structural reforms aimed at fostering private sector growth in order to realize the tremendous potential of the region and achieve the objective of the monetary cooperation programme.

In  delivering the keynote address to open the meetings, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Prof. Kelfala Kallon said,  stock will be taken at the meetings of the status of implementation of the revised Roadmap, bearing in mind the commitments made by state  authorities to establish a monetary union by 2020. He noted that the decision regarding the selection of countries that would qualify for accession to monetary union would be undertaken after an evaluation of the state of readiness of Member States.

“As we get closer to decision point, I concede that this meeting is taking place at a period characterized by socio-political and economic developments and uncertainties, both global and domestic”.

The Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone recounted the challenges Sierra Leone was grappling with which  were highlighted at the recent statutory meetings held in August 2019, in Conakry, including a subdued real sector, price instability and  excesses in fiscal policy.

Prior to the review of   Member States, the Bank Governor said that the macroeconomic fundamentals of Sierra Leone has improved modestly since then as a result of implementation of prudent policy measures that focused on promoting all-inclusive growth, restoring macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability through structural reforms, fiscal consolidation and a viable external sector.

“Consequently, real GDP growth accelerated to 5.1 percent in 2019, from 3.5 percent in 2018. Inflationary pressures also continued to trend downwards in the right direction to 13.9 percent at December 2019, after having peaked at 16.6 percent in April 2019,” he said.

In the next few days several institutions within the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme will hold technical meetings that will lead to the 40th Meeting of the Committee of Central Bank Governors of the WAMZ and climax with the 43rd Meeting of the Convergence Council of Ministers and Governors will be opened by the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio.

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