‘De Gron Dry’ …Bio Wants To Soak It -Information Minister

Notwithstanding claims of impressive transformational state governance and macroeconomic gains made by the Bio administration since it took over the reins of the state on 4th April, 2018, especially in the areas of the fight against corruption, revenue mobilization, financial discipline and energy generation, what concerns the average ordinary Sierra Leonean is the fundamental existential issue of bread and butter.

So when the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray aka Rado was told on Tuesday morning in a radio interview that the concern of the ordinary average man, woman and child is that the “gron dry” meaning times are hard, and what President Julius Maada Bio and the government are doing to address this critical issue, the Minister replied that the President and his ‘New Direction’ government are hard at it to change the narrative to the advantage of especially the downtrodden.

He however conceded that in ‘soaking” the ground to make it fertile for productivity and prosperity, certain things have to be done to dig the well and fix the pipe to it and that will take some time. The Information Minister was responding to questions put to him by Radio Democracy after the President and his nine-man delegation’s visit to the United States of America (USA) and Morocco and the benefits of those visits to the country.

Mr. Swaray stated that President Bio is a forward looking leader with a large heart for the people of this country, especially penury-stricken citizens who still make up a significant proportion of the population. As such, at the first ministerial retreat after he came to power, he said the President impressed on them that having inherited a battered economy, every development area was a priority which they managed to whittle down to eight key priority areas.

In this regard, the President’s visit to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology should be seen in the context of revolutionizing the country’s ICT landscape as an enabler of good governance, promotion of education (FQE), health, agriculture, among others through collaborative partnership including research and students and faculty exchanges between Sierra Leone and those two leading cutting edge higher learning institutions in the USA – for which two MoUs were signed with Njala University. This, he said, should be seen in the context of Sierra Leone having the worst human development index figures when this government took over.

Beyond the nightmarish images of the war years that still continue to linger in the minds of the West of Salone being a failed, brutish country, President Bio, the Information Minister said, portrayed a vision of the new Sierra Leone that his government has set about creating through judicious installation of an enabling political and economic governance superstructure that will lead to robust, sustained development on all fronts now concretely embodied in the government’s mid-term National Development Plan that focuses development on the eight selected thematic areas of national reconstruction and transformation.

This, he said, impressed the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) that promised President Bio in their meeting that they would give Sierra Leone all the assistance it needed to pass the MCC benchmarks that would qualify the country for lavish MCC infrastructural development funding.

Minister Swaray similarly said the World Bank was impressed with the government’s transformational narrative and committed US$325 Million increased financial support to Sierra Leone after President Bio told them that whatever transformational gains are made would not create a positive impact in the minds of the people if the benefits do not trickle down to them.

As such, the fresh World Bank funding will support progress in the energy sector for generation, transmission and distribution as well as for rural electrification and solar energy; women and girls empowerment; maternal mortality; girls education and incentives to remain in school and reproductive health services; private sector growth; increased internet access; increased budgetary assistance and additional support for social safety nets for vulnerable groups, women and youth including people living with disabilities.

Critically, the engagement with the World Bank not only resulted in the US$325M credit but also progress on the new extended US$172M IMF Extended Credit Facility; plans for restructuring of the country’s US$1.4B international debt portfolio and prospects for financing of the country’s mid-term NDP which will eventually result in a dramatic and deep-seated transformation of the country from mass poverty to shared prosperity that will benefit each and every Sierra Leonean in terms of improved national infrastructure, education, health, and new and increased earnings across the board in terms of job creation brought about by the accompanying diversification of the economy outlined in the NDP.