Sierra Leone: SLPP Jumps the Gun Again

By Bockarie Sam – One of the sterling leadership qualities President Koroma has exhibited during this challenging moment in the fight against the receding Ebola virus disease is the fact that he has been inspirational to the international community not only in curbing corruption, but also the unstinting commitment and zest shown in the management and accountability of the Ebola funds. Considering the circumstances the country finds itself and taking up the bold step by insisting on the prudent use of Ebola funds and priming on accountability speaks volume and a testament to his resilience to zero tolerance against corruption. Analysts have described this as worth following for the betterment and the development of the country as well as good governance analysts have been continuing to urge all leaders to emulate President Koroma.

Sierra Leone Ebola EstimatesThe ‘dis-Unity’ Sierra Leone Peoples Party(SLPP) mouthpiece last Friday carried a headline that donors are angry over chopping of Ebola funds as this has been shown during the Brussels meeting with the three most affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Contrary to this weak assertion, it must be clearly stated that among the three countries; Sierra Leone is the only country that has done a real time audit on management of Ebola funds which to a huge extent has made President Koroma to receive international compliment in ensuring a platform for transparency and accountability. During the high level meeting in Brussels, the co-chairs shored up their support for a Marshall plan of defeating the disease and at the same time finance the post Ebola recovery plans of the tri-nations worst-hit in which Sierra Leone was singularly given a debt relief worth about $187 million to bolster that effort. How can you be angry and at the same time disbursing funds to support the government in the battle against the deadly disease by helping to cover immediate budget and balance of payments shortfalls, and reinforcing the government’s foreign reserves?

“The Sierra Leonean economy is battling two severe exogenous shocks with dramatic social and economic repercussions,” IMF deputy managing director Min Zhu said.

“The Ebola epidemic and the sharp decline in iron ore prices are weighing heavily on the economy and have the potential for significant output contraction, continued price pressures, and increased fiscal and balance of payments deficits in 2015.”

It is an utter dismay when a ‘NO POSITION’ opposition is trying to score cheap political points on an issue of increasing national importance, especially enhancing national cohesion in fighting a common enemy. It’s really truly a pity.

The president in his resoundingly effective countrywide social mobilization tour had urged all authorities concerned to be transparent and accountable in the use of these funds and it has been re-echoed in every corner he has visited across the country. ‘’From the word go, I have insisted on transparency and accountability. It was me that was going round the country warning everybody that we have to account for the Ebola funds and the ACC has been given a greater support by me. We have also strengthened the Auditor General’s Office….The Parliament is now reviewing the report and this clearly sends a signal that we are committed to our efforts in fighting corruption,’’ quoting his recent BBC interview on the side-lines of the Brussels Conference. To further showcase transparency, President Koroma has called for an audit of all international NGOs and Donors that received monies for and on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone.

Taking a critical look of the matter therein, political and social commentators have lauded the ruling government for its stern effort to first ensuring the enabling environment and allowing the Public Account Committee of Parliament to hold a public hearing and bring to book all individuals and institutions named in the Audit Report. The Audit Service Sierra Leone has been described by many as an unknown institution in this country during the eleven year rule of the fractious SLPP. The SLPP succeeded in placing such an important institution in the cupboard and rendering it insignificant.

In fact, despite all the vuvuzelling by the SLPP over a process sanctioned by President Koroma, the people of this country still have fresh in their minds the Le 1.8 Billion that got up and walked out of the vaults of the Bank of Sierra Leone under the SLPP. Sierra Leoneans haven’t forgotten the over Le 5 Billion that was thrown down the drains as uncovered by the Public Expenditure & Tracking Survey (PETS) during their era. Many of our compatriots could still recall that the SLPP went down in history as the FIRST government to turn diamonds into stone. Since then, nothing was heard of diamonds in this country until the APC arrived. That is the SLPP for you; always jumping the gun.