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Electricity has not improved since NPA was unbundled

…Imran Sillah avers

October 27, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Aspirant for the position of Publicity Secretary in the forthcoming delegates’ convention of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Imran Sillah, has claimed that electricity generation and supply has not improved since the National Power Authority (NPA) was made defunct in January, 2015.

He made the above claim in an exclusive interview with Concord Times Tuesday, stating that every government should privatise or transform service delivery sectors, incur less debt and also remove itself from the business of employment.

He maintained there was no marked difference between the defunct NPA and current Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority.

“Interrupted electricity supply remains the same. There are some areas that are still going without electricity supply for days. Some areas have not even benefitted from the much-needed facility,” he said.

He claimed that customers would rather consult and pay private engineers whenever they are faced with an electrical problem or dilemma.

He also questioned the decision of government to borrow two hundred million United States Dollars ($200m) from the Chinese government to construct the Mamamah Airport, which according to him is not needed at a time the country’s economy is in shambles.

“Why do we need a second airport and how many flights are coming in and out of Sierra Leone. Look at the Lungi International Airport, which still looks like a ‘backyard’ even though government had claimed that it had been upgraded. We need to improve and expand it so as to attract major airlines to come there instead of constructing a new one,” he said.

The SLPP Publicity Secretary candidate asked, “Of which benefit is a second airport to the people of Sierra Leone?”

He averred that the US$200 million loan from China could either be embezzled or the government would go on and award their cronies huge contracts that would only be beneficial to few in the country.

He said there was little sense in establishing more airports as such would not, and in no way, boost the country’s economy.

He proffered that for the country’s economy to boom, there should be uninterrupted electricity and water supply, coupled with robust taxation.

“It is a waste of government resources and it’s an indication that this government is recklessly spending our resources on things that would not be of benefit to us. At the end of the day, it’s the taxpayers’ money that would be used to repay the loan. It may interest you to know that we already have incurred US$1.7bn debt as a country and the US$200m would be an additional burden on the taxpayers,” he said.

Sillah disclosed that the late President Tejan Kabbah’s stated in his handing over speech in 2007 that, “My Government inherited a public debt of US$US1.6 billion. With stringent financial practice, today, we enjoy total debt relief and left over Le500 billion at the Central Bank for use by your [President Koroma’s] government.”

The firebrand politician also weighed into the controversial decision by te government to sell public houses. “Another thing is that I have heard rumours that the government is about to sell the OAU Villas at Hill Station. Why do they want to do that after they have sold the Low cost houses at Kissy. How many Sierra Leoneans will benefit from the sales of those villas and where was the proceeds of the sales of the Low Cost houses invested,” he quizzed.

He added that, “these are some of the questions that this government should be answering instead of thinking of selling the OAU Villas.”

“If we are spending our resources wisely and managing them very well, there is no reason a government will think of selling those OAU Villas to cushion the economy. Those villas should be maintained for civil servants, including permanent secretaries, among others.”

He, however, is in support of the proposed removal of fuel subsidy. “I have also heard that the government is about to remove fuel subsidy and to me it is wise because even though the pump price of fuel was reduced, the drivers did not reduce the transport fare.”

“In my view the removal of subsidy on fuel prices would stop smuggling in those areas, but that the government should try to minimise poverty, corruption and underfunded police services. There are several causes for fuel theft and smuggling in Sierra Leone. Yet, huge differences in the price of diesel and petrol across the region provide convenient opportunities to make money from buying fuel in one country and selling it in another,” he said.

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