February 7, 2018 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Presidential candidate for the opposition Sierra Leone peoples Party (SLPP), Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, has promised to rescue the country’s ailing economy, adding that the ‘New Direction Manifesto’ is predicated on the political ideology of social democracy and the fundamentals of peace, freedom, security, justice, equality, unity and solidarity.
He said the SLPP manifesto seeks to promote and guarantee political, social, economic and cultural rights of all Sierra Leoneans through entitlement and access to basic necessities of life, adding that the main opposition party aspires to create a just and equal society in Sierra Leone as the sole insurance to avoid another war and recurrent political instability.
Speaking on how he would manage the country transform from austerity to a vibrant economic outlook, the former Head of State said: “The New Direction exchange rate management strategic objective is to maintain low, stable and competitive exchange rate through increasing exports and reducing imports of consumer goods. The specific policies are, improve on the current account balance through a review of existing policy framework for rural banking and financing to support cash crop production and marketing. We also intend to improve supportive marketing infrastructure and facilities; and also promote agro-processing to add value to farm products for exports and maintain low import levels, particularly on consumer goods,” he said adding that sustained competitive interest rate with the aim of attracting foreign capital, maintenance of a single digit inflation to improve on the purchasing power of the currency are fundamental to the SLPP.
‘’Human and infrastructure development as well as strengthening governance structures require resources. Therefore, improving the economy through sound economic policies and management is not an end but a means of developing the human capital, public infrastructure and governance structure. Although Sierra Leone is endowed with vast natural resources, in its most recent history, particularly after the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in 2014, it became an international byword for a country with extremely poor health infrastructure and death. Sierra Leone has failed as a nation to prudently utilize the proceeds from this natural wealth to develop its human capital and infrastructure. Consequently, the bulk of our people are mired in underdevelopment and grinding poverty amidst the growing affluence of a few,”’ he said. Mr. Bio said the SLPP Manifesto is the product of very extensive and intensive consultations nation-wide.
“I therefore commend this Manifesto to you for your approval and ask that you signify your agreement by voting overwhelmingly for the SLPP to bounce back to power in the State House, in Parliament and in all the Local Councils around the country,” he concluded.