Hardship! …But Bio Asked To Be Judged At The End


President Julius Maada Bio appears to remain committed to his pre and post election promise to the people of Sierra Leone that his administration – ‘New Direction,’ will make Sierra Leone a better place for its citizens.

One year on into his administration, himself and key officials in his ‘New Direction’ led government have given an assessment of progress made so far in quest of a better Sierra Leone.

Finance Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, who is at the forefront of getting a bankrupt moribund economy back on its feet and galloping along healthily, reports that considerable improvement has been made in both prudent management of the economy and mobilization of internally generated revenues to finance development activities, starting with the Finance ministry immediately the Bio administration declaring an Executive Order implementing the Treasury Single Account (TSA) that saw a remarkable increase in revenue going into the Consolidated Revenue Fund from sectors such as telecommunications, maritime and others.

JJ Saffa noted that because of the government’s impressive financial management performance, the World Bank decided to convert a loan of US$40 million into a grant; which means the country does not have to repay it. This, he said, was revealed to President Bio during his recent visit to Washington DC, United State of America (USA).

The Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority (NRA), Dr. Samuel Jibao reports that because of the implementation of the TSA and the robust dynamic taxation policy implemented by his team, for the first ten months the ‘New Direction’ government depended purely on domestic revenue collected by NRA.

On the claim by the business sector that NRA has increased taxes, he denied that they have increased it. What instead he said has happened is that the tax information network has been increased thereby capturing more tax payers who previously were not compliant. This, he said, has increased the tax base, resulting in restored international confidence in the government that has resulted in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reopening credit arrangements with the country. He noted that IMF’s criterion for financial assistance is increased domestic revenue mobilization. “IMF is pleased that we are on track,” he reports.

Presidential Press Secretary and Spokesman, Keketoma Sandi reports that the effect of this increased revenue generation by the ‘New Direction’ government on the people includes 20% salary increase for civil servants, and allowances for nurses increased by 100%. “Things are difficult,” he confessed, adding, “we have challenges but we are taking tangible steps and actions to restore hope in governance and economic credibility so that we see our politicians differently.”

He furthered that on their trips to Europe and America, they told their partners, the World Bank in Washington DC and others that the new government believes in economic and fiscal discipline and is setting a new tone – a new agenda.

Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh reports that the ‘New Direction’ administration has restored international confidence that Sierra Leone is a country where the leadership is serious about good financial management, fighting corruption, improving social delivery and attracting investment.

In his own assessment of his government’s performance, President Julius Maada Bio admits: “I know it is hard for my people. I was expecting this but I didn’t promise simplistic solutions that will only last a week, I promised a total fix. I am working on that and it will take time. I want to be judged at the end not the beginning. I want to assure Sierra Leoneans that we are making progress in terms of attracting direct foreign investment.” He added: “We have only started a long journey in terms of making sure that Sierra Leone is in the best direction for direct foreign investment which has an impact on providing a better quality of life.”