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Solomon Jamiru defends Bio’s one year: Says economy was never meant to be fixed in a year

April 5, 2019

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

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Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Solomon Jamiru

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru Esq., has stated that the economy, which the current President Maada Bio’s led administration inherited, was not meant to be fixed in a year’s period.

The Deputy Minister was speaking at the Ministry of Information and Communications usual weekly press briefing in Freetown, while updating the media about the achievements of President Bio’s one year in office.

“The shape in which we met the economy was very embarrassing, very low and it posed huge challenge in terms of providing goods and services. We inherited a foreign debt well over one billion United States Dollars, domestic debt over five hundred million United States Dollars and other debts to contractors,” he said.

He admitted that as a government, it was part of their responsibility to provide goods and services to the people of the country; hence they have not been taking the back seat by scaling up the domestic revenue generation and scaling up in respect of fiscal discipline.

He said domestic revenue collected during 2018 increased to Le4.35 trillion-14% of the GDP, compared to Le3.34 trillion -12.6% of the GDP in 2017.

He boasted that in terms of revenue generation they have seen significant improvement.

He said from April 2018 to March 2019, government collected five trillion and eighty six billion, six hundred and ninety six million Leones, disclosing that the monthly average in terms of revenue generation was three hundred and thirty nine billion Leones, compared to one hundred and thirty four billion Leone as monthly average from 2016 to 2017, which showed that they were taking revenue generation very seriously.

He further stated that the introduction and implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) gave confidence to donors, who now have trust in the government.

He said now that they were very committed in terms of fiscal discipline, they were now looking for ways that would ensure food security for citizens across the country.

Solomon Jamiru said the president has given unravel premium to the development of human capital and devoted his fight against corruption, poverty and indiscipline.

He said the president had said and continues to believe that Sierra Leone has past the position to be dependent on its natural mineral resources, but rather invest in human resources in respect of education, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), as other governments were doing to develop their nations.

He said the human capital was one critical step to achieving all what was required to develop a nation, which was why the government had rolled out the free quality education for both primary and secondary schools across the country.

The deputy minister reiterated that during the period of rolling out the free quality education, government was aware that there were going to be some challenges attending to the system.

He called on Sierra Leoneans to entreat the government while rating it on the free quality education programme for the simple fact that at the time the programme started, there was no budget and that they solely relied on domestic revenue.

He noted that government might not have been getting it hundred percent right, but that they have made significant progress on the free quality education, for which they deserve fair judgement because it was never meant to be perfect at a start.

He said as a government, they will go back to the drawing board to rectify the mistakes in the first year and make sure it doesn’t repeat in the second year.

He said primary, secondary and senior secondary education are not only part of the human capital development, but that government was also interested in  tertiary education and that they believed that based on the educational gap analysis, they thought that there has been a very serious mismatch between what the contemporary imagine industries’ needs versus the subject that are taught in the secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

He said some people will get the university education, did could not necessarily become employable, adding that it was important the educational system of the country be benchmarked with international best practices.

He said as government, they also value investment in talent of Sierra Leoneans and that they were trying to catch children, while they are young and invest in their talent educationally.

He said they were considering the introduction of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in school curriculum, and that soon they would have thousands of laptop computers, with teachers trained to teach the children.

He said one of the critical steps that the current government had ever taken was the launch of the Commission of Inquiry, which was one of the recommendations of the government transition team- that it was important that they have a judge led inquiry and the proceedings of that inquiry has showed that it was not meant for a watch hunting.

He said recently, the report on special audit was launched at the Ministry of Finance, and that the audit was conducted by about fifty auditors from across African countries.

He said the report showed some fundamental pitfalls with respect to Sierra Leonean best practices in ministries, departments and agencies, how procurement procedures were bridged, and how contracts were given out.

He said the fight against corruption has made a significant progress during the one year period under the leadership of Francis Ben Kaifala, who had made positive settlement and able to regain some stolen money that the president had promised to use to develop the medical system in the country.