By Jariatu S. Bangura
Deputy Leader of Government Business, Hon. Bashiru Silikie, has noted that based on the accomplishments of the Bio administration’s four years in governance, it is but fitting that the people of Sierra Leone give the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) more time and vote the party in 2023 so that they can do more
He said President Bio has done well, taking into consideration the current state of the world economy and what is happening globally, especially the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We took over in 2018 and met the country in a very bad shape and that it was clear we told the public that we met an empty coffer. So, we had to struggle and for all of these while we started to set the economy right and implemented the Single Treasury Account so as to consolidate government revenue. We started well and because of that we automatically kick-started the Free Quality Education because we were very sure that the trend at which the economy was moving, we will sustain it,” he said.
He said the free quality education was going on well as enrolment in schools has increased with more retained teachers with pin codes in various schools, because the government has been able to fulfil some parts of all of their needs.
He cited the provision of food and the payment of examinations fees for pupils writing public exams.
He added that it would be a gradual process to have a free quality education and that more schools have been built in order to enhance the free quality education.
“We have not got it right of course. We noticed that public examinations before now were having irregularities and we have tried in our own way to minimize the level of irregularities. So, we now have more people passing and the last BECE and WASSCE were clear manifestations because we have massive passes. We expect everybody to come onboard because with time we will get it right,” he said.
He encouraged parents and every Sierra Leonean to be part of the process so that they get things right in order to enhance the free quality education, since the government believes in human capital development.
Hon. Silikie noted that the government has built and rehabilitated many schools with the support of private institutions in most parts of the country, citing that with the help of Mercury International they built the first bordering home school in Port Loko and also four schools in Gerehun.
“Government can build direct or indirectly. We have done a lot and I cannot call all of them for now. I am very sure that nobody will come and say we have never built any school in these four years in governance which is far from the reality,” he said.
On the economy, he stated that it was very clear that they inherited a bad economy and that they have tried to consolidate government revenue with the implementation of the Single Treasury Account.
He said they have their own plan as a government to cushion the effect of the corona pandemic on the lives of Sierra Leoneans, citing the provision of Le1.3million cash transfer per person, a process he said targets about 12,000 people across the country .
He said they met the mineral sector in shambles with poor mining agreements inherited and no reserves in the coffer, yet as a government they were trying all they could now to address those numerous challenges.
He said they were trying to diversify the economy in order to address the numerous challenges, improve on the agricultural sector, fisheries and marine sectors so that things will go normal and get better.
“We know things are very difficult but because we are spending huge sums of money on education, a development that has affected other sectors. We have also improved on the sporting aspect. We now have more people especially young people that are either playing football or are part of football activities. We are creating jobs through the youth empowerment scheme on a yearly basis and have more than one thousand people being employed as graduates. The National Youth Commission is also training more people so that they access jobs,” he said.
He cited the increase in the exchange rate of the United States Dollars, a situation he said suppresses the value of the country’s currency, the Leones.
He said they were very sure that they have done their bit as a government and that they deserve a second bite.
Hon. Silikie said the Bio’s government has fought corruption and that they have gotten rid of senior government officials caught in corruption practices, adding that should people want the government to do more, they should give the government more time to achieve such.
“We are still encouraging the private sector to come onboard. We are creating the enabling environment as we have been giving tax exemption to companies that want to operate in the provinces so that people will be gainfully employed and can take of themselves. Government has not been able to generate much revenue because 60% of the work force is employed by government and we are losing because we want the people to get satisfied,” he narrated.