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‘Probe unexplained wealth of public officers’

- IGR urges Parliament

July 14, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

 A civil society consortium has called on the House of Parliament to institute an investigation into what it referred to as “unexplained wealth” amassed by public officers over the past few years, pointing at the recent revelation in the Africa Confidential report as a case in point.

In its latest critical perspective on governance in Sierra Leone titled, “The cost of a dysfunctional opposition”, the Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) pointed out that weak legal and regulatory environment for extractives is not creating transparency of mining agreements and that very low revenue is realized from the country’s minerals wealth with the opposition being “deafeningly quiet on losses from mining revenue and the major economic loss issues occupying the local media”.

“There are obvious beneficiaries for the mishaps which the opposition has either failed to oversee or willingly turned a blind eye to,” noted the civil society think tank. “Like all weak democracies, the few public officials  and  their  associates  who  get  away  with  their  actions  remain  the happy beneficiaries of opposition dysfunction. One example is the recent Africa Confidential report, the Anti-Corruption Commission report (June 2015), which [pointed to] serious unexplained wealth accumulated by a few highly placed people in recent years.”

From the closure of mining companies leading to loss of jobs to the failure of services and economic decline, citizens pay the price for opposition dysfunction, stated IGR, adding that while iron ore companies have been functional in Guinea and Liberia throughout the Ebola period and did not close down for reasons of a fall in the price of ore, at least 5,000 Sierra Leoneans lost their jobs arising from the closure of the two iron ore giants, African Minerals and London Mining.

“The collapsed businesses resurfaced as a new company in the hands of the same entrepreneurs who presided over the demise of the previous corporation. There was no opposition review and scrutiny of the transactions. Moreover, Sierra Leone-owned businesses are owed millions of dollars by runaway London Mining and there is no one in the opposition to champion their case,” the group lamented. “Sierra Leone’s ­ethanol producer, Addax Bioenergy, announced temporary closure and redundancy of its workers; adding to the list of corporations that have gone down in the last one year for inability to sustain operations. We want Parliament to institute an investigation into all of these.”

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