July 23, 2018
By Mohamed Massaquoi
The Vice President of Sierra Leone last Friday denied claims by some section of the media that he had promised to import rice on behalf of government, adding that the best way to solve decades of dependence on rice import was to implement strategies that would empower local farmers to produce more rice for consumption locally and export.
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh made the statement at State House during the launch of a magazine on the activities of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party- led administration within one hundred days.
He said he is closely working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Local Councils to encourage farmers embark on increased farming activities with the prerequisite support to enable them produce more.
“I have never told anybody that I was going to import rice into the country. I am not a businessman but the Vice President of Sierra Leone. I believed in supporting farmers to produce more food for the people rather than importing rice into the country,” he said, adding that within one hundred days of SLPP governance, a lot have been achieved and that the administration would continue to work in the interest of the people by providing basic amenities to improve lives.
He said government was strongly focused on fixing key thematic areas, including transforming the economy, human development, and infrastructure, adding that government has taken key steps to improving the economy within the first one hundred days.
“We are paying salaries without bank overdraft as it used to happen with the previous administration. We have made strong transformation in government institutions, we have also ensured that mining companies pay their taxes to government and improved the policy environment for many sectors,” he told pressmen, adding that the government is focusing on creating a donor trust fund to boost the educational sector with the primary aim of providing free but quality education for the children of Sierra Leone.
In addition, Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Raman Swarray, said his ministry had earmarked benchmarks to be achieved within the first one hundred days period despite challenges facing not only the ministry but government as a whole.
Swarray said work was in progress to improve on telecommunication systems in the country, adding that rural connectivity, harmonising tariff and improving telecommunication infrastructure are very imminent on his agenda.
“We have settled up a local telephone exchange cost, strengthen rural connectivity and more importantly to expunge the criminal libel law in the law books,” he noted.
Minister of Finance Jacob Jusu Saffa said that during the first one hundred days since the SLPP assumed office the ministry has implemented a number of measures aimed at correcting fiscal slippages that occurred in previous years and restore macro-economic stability. He said the ministry pursued fiscal consideration focusing mainly on enhancing local revenue mobilisation and expenditure rationalisation, compiled the stock and commenced audit of domestic arrears.
“Most importantly, government re-launched discussions with the IMF that would lead to negotiations of a new extended credit facility arrangement. The result of the fiscal consideration has been increased domestic revenue collection and expenditure savings, thereby providing fiscal space for spending on key areas such as primary and tertiary institutions, security sector, prompt payment of NASSIT contributions, payment of subsidies to the energy sector among others,” he said and added that even though they inherited an unhealthy economy, they would do their best to fix it.