August 21, 2019
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Member of Parliament, Hon. Abdul Kargbo representing Constituency 077 has charged that the current economic hardship in Sierra Leone is as a result of the increment of wage bill by the New Direction administration, thus describing the Minister of Finance and Bank Governor as unfit for their jobs.
Hon. Kargbo said that the last wage bill paid by the APC led administration in 2018 was Le106.4 billion per month, but that in June 2019 under the New Direction administration, the government wage bill increased to Le196.3 billion, which means that Le35.8 billion has been added.
He said extra Le429.8 billion has been added to the wage bill in one year, adding that the creation of new offices and diplomatic missions is a major cause for the current economic crisis.
Hon.Kargbo was on Monday speaking during the Gud Morning Salone program at Radio Democracy 98.1, where he observed that the current state of Sierra Leone economy is affecting every Sierra Leonean, irrespective of political affiliation.
He charged that the Bio led administration was insincere to its conscience because they had promised to cut down the wage bill as one of the measures to stabilize the country’s economy, but ended up doing the worst in the name of ‘creating jobs for their boys.’
He noted that economic issues were critical because they deal with the livelihood of the people, thus adding that government expends money through wage bill, recurrence, development, debt servicing, all of which he said are not properly managed by the current administration.
Hon. Kargbo however admitted that the decline of the economy under the former APC regime was as a result of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the drop in prices of iron ore, thus noting that the Bio led government has not experienced such problems.
He described the current economic problem as a result of lack of capacity by those that are handling the economy, adding that greed and selfishness which are in the DNA of the SLPP government are responsible for the dwindling of the economy of Sierra Leone.
On the contrary, Hon. Tawa of the SLPP agreed that the economy is going through some serious challenges, but that the government was making progress in some aspects, especially the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which has increased from 10.5% in 2017 to 12.5% in 2019.
Hon. Tawa noted that the separation of ministries and creation of new offices hasn’t got any negative effect on the economy, adding “the same budget allocation for one ministry is the same amount given to the separated ministries.
He argued that the wage bill has increased simply because government has recruited more nurses and teachers to augment both the educational and health sectors.
He argued that the country’s economy is seriously constrained because the country relies majorly on import without exporting.
On the aspect of economic diversification, Hon. Tawa said the focus of the government is on agriculture, fishery and tourism, which he claimed, will help mitigate the current economic situation in the country.
Hon. Tawa added that exporting products from fishery and agriculture sectors will help reduce the hike in exchange rate.
He further highlighted the fiscal policies as dictated by Executive Order No.1 and 2 as prudent measures to solve the awful economy inherited by the Bio government.
But Hon. Kargbo reiterated that SLPP is only good at explaining policies which they can never implement.
Kargbo added that the SLPP government is treating the economy with levity, noting that the inflation has risen from 11.2% to 18.5% in just one year.
He advised the government to encourage investors to come so that the ‘slump economy’ will rejuvenate once again.