Hardship Bites Sierra Leoneans

Hardship Bites Sierra Leoneans

Even supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) have appealed to the President and his government to urgently change the narratives as poverty and hardship continues to shatter homes across the country.

There is very little money circulating in the economy. Inflation – the cost of goods and services has risen by 18% since taking office twelve months ago. The country’s currency – the Leone has lost about 15% of its value since April 2018.

Unemployment a key performance measure of government’s success in managing the economy remains stubbornly high at over 70%.

Thousands of traders who spoke to this medium decry the slow pace at which the country is moving in terms of the development and the bread and butter things.

Prices according to them have being skyrocketed in all the leading shops across the country due to depreciation of the Leones towards the dollars.

The much propaganda by the Minister of Finance about the economy during his reign as an opposition operative is not making moves to change the narratives as Sierra Leoneans continued to suffer.

Months before general and presidential elections, the IMF and other international partners suspended their funding agreements with president Koroma, as ministers and senior government recklessly abandoned their offices to campaign to prolong their stay in office.

As government borrowing rose, so did money supply became scarce, with commercial banks restricting customers’ withdrawal of cash from their personal accounts, but ministers and senior public officials were withdrawing thousands of dollars on a daily basis.

Interest rates on personal and business borrowing became unaffordable, as commercial banks ran out of cash. Business expansion suffered, jobs were not created, and poverty worsened.

The government’s own bank – the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, became piggy bank for those in power. Loans and overdrafts were granted to ministers and senior state officials without any intention of paying back.

The economy is struggling to get out of recession. Investors are holding on to their cash waiting to see what steps the government takes in restructuring the economy, improve the justice system and overall business climate.

Whilst there is general feeling that impunity and abuse of office fuelled by so called ‘orders from above’ may not be as rampant as in the previous Koroma led government, lawlessness in Sierra Leone remains Sierra Leone’s most protracted social and economic ill.

But turning back to the economy, after twelve months without the Koroma led APC in power, how much have things improved?

If improvements are to be judged by changes in levels of unemployment, inflation trends, economic growth, exchange rates, and interest rates, then certainly there is very little to write home about, as Sierra Leoneans continue to suffer growing economic hardship.

But these problems were not created by the SLPP government, though expected to be fixed by them.

When the APC government was kicked out of office a year ago, Sierra Leone’s economy was already on serious life support. And that was the reason the APC lost power to the SLPP.

The Bio’s administration should stop the blame game and focused on the bread and butter of Sierra Leoneans as things are tough everywhere.

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